Letter: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

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Dear Sir:

I wish to bring to your attention an untenable situation that currently exists on Trinidad and Tobago’s roads particularly the Priority Bus Route (PBR), that is inimical to the rule of law, public safety, courtesy and the exercise of due care for road users in general, thereby creating a clear and imminent danger to commuters.

On my daily travels along the PBR, from east Trinidad to Port of Spain, I observe with consternation the dangerous and reckless manner in which the police/prisoners’ escorts are conducted en route to courts in Port of Spain and elsewhere. It is quite normal for the police officers who are party to the convoy to blatantly breach several laws, regulations and rules that they themselves are sworn and compelled to uphold and enforce and at the same time encourage and facilitate the Amalgamated Security drivers to do the same. These escorts are conducted during peak hours and given the volume of vehicles on the PBR at that time, it is not unusual for them to overtake long lines of vehicles thereby forcing oncoming vehicles including PTSC buses to veer off the roadway to avoid collision and make way for the escort that operates notoriously and contrary to the permissible flow of traffic.

Notwithstanding, that a routine prisoners escort by itself cannot properly qualify as an emergency, police sirens are arbitrarily used at several dangerous intersections along the PBR, mostly exceeding the speed limit, thereby endangering the lives of hapless prisoners and legitimate users of the road. Several accidents have resulted as a direct consequence of the dangerous manner in which the escort is conducted, causing injuries to members of the public, police officers and prisoners. In any event, whether an emergency exists or not drivers which includes police officers and their “friends” from Amalgamated Security must at all times drive with due care and attention. Especially since Amalgamated Security Ltd, their drivers and/or their vehicles are not authorized users of the Priority Bus Route as required by law and the mere presence of the police cannot and do not legitimize their presence there.

I am aware of the efforts of Arrive Alive to reduce road traffic accidents and minimize the loss of lives resulting from accidents, the mandate by the ministry of works and transport to bring about awareness to public safety on the nation’s road, and the various initiatives from the Commissioner of Police via the Traffic Branch and Sections to enforce traffic laws, which includes but not limited to driving over the speed limit and driving under the influence of alcohol, so as to engender a safe environment for motorists and the traveling public. In this regard the state expended large amounts of monies on equipment such as “Speed guns”, Breathalyzers etcetera so as to achieve their agenda of road safety.

Sometime in May 2016 Prime Minister Dr Rowley in a newspaper’s article assured that his drivers would obey the law and drive well within the speed limit. In the said article Inspector Anand Ramesar of the Police Service Association was also quoted as saying inter alia “There was no provision in law for officers to drive above the speed limit”. However, as mentioned above I have witnessed the contrary with the unbridled breaches of the law and disregard for road safety initiatives, as perpetrated and facilitated by police officers.

It would be remiss of those in authority if this situation continues unabated as it is in conflict with the duty to uphold and enforce the law also to be acquiesced to the policies and initiatives of stakeholders regarding road and public safety. I therefore look forward for decisive action to stop this malady, restore compliance with the traffic laws and to make safe driving a habit.

Umar Abdullah

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