Sunday 29th July, 2007

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Seabridge a good idea

Martin George’s recent suggestion about a seabridge to serve Trinidad and Tobago is a good suggestion.

I’d like to build on it. Though younger folks of the backpacker/hostel demographic don’t mind last-minute booking and leaving things to chance, others prefer to have a ticket, preferably e-ticket, for a confirmed booking/seat on transport between countries. Here is where Tobago Express falls down.

Some family members of mine were taking a chartered flight from London to Tobago, presuming it would be easy to book flights to Trinidad using Caribbean Express.

Imagine their surprise when they found they could not. After selecting flights online when they got to the payment page the only option was to hold the booking for 24 hours until someone goes in to pay at one of four locations in Trinidad and Tobago!

There is no information on the Web site on whether the ticket is an e-ticket and there were no responses to e-mail requests for further information.

Additionally, Tobago Express allows you less luggage weight compared to other international carriers. In the end, my family opted to use the fast ferry instead—since both travel options require someone in T&T to pay for the ticket beforehand, why choose the option that charges me for weight allowed on the international flight?

Some enterprising group offers to take Internet bookings on your behalf, for an extra TT$35 per ticket; but how can I trust them if they’re not related to Tobago Express?

With the increased amount of chartered passenger traffic stopping off in Tobago, what a missed opportunity for Tobago Express to offer seamless Internet booking for tourists/returning nationals!

Then there is the issue of the exorbitant ticket prices Caribbean Air Lines charges to get direct flights to Piarco.

I’m talking double the cost of chartered operators, which is a helluva lot of pounds sterling—if my family gets decent service on the chartered flight, CAL will be lucky to ever get my family to travel with them again.

Tobago Express management gave the impression that restrictions on its ability to set ticket prices caused the bad service but I disagree. There is so much room for them to improve employee productivity and process efficiency, as well as widen its potential market by making simple Web site and policy changes, that I think what Tobago Express needs is new management thinking and courage.

With this new management thinking, they can implement new suggestions.

* Segregate the market into those who want confirmed seating and those who’re willing to show up at the last minute.

* For those who want confirmed seating, as well as post and cargo/freight business, get rid of the small planes in Crown Point, so they could honour the international weight allowances.

Give e-tickets and paper tickets at a charge of $400 one-way (please, don’t insult Internet customers by wanting to charge extra for using credit cards—that’s abominable in this day and age).

* For the others, buy a fleet of four seaplanes and charge $200 one-way from Scarborough to Port-of-Spain to give the fast ferry/government a run for its money.

They’ll still have restrictions on how much luggage is allowed (only hand luggage), but it should be good for some tourists, business folk or students returning home/going to school in Trinidad.

With good maintenance management they should be able to provide two to three flights per hour. For $275, let the planes travel from Pt Lisas so they could miss the traffic to Port-of-Spain.

That would leave the fast ferry for car/van/truck transfers plus those with large freight needs such as market produce, building materials or other goods (or tourists who want to take pictures of our beautiful north coast). When it links with the government’s water-taxi services, seaplanes could be very viable.

Edmund Gall

Information Security Professional


Commissioned to fail

Public consensus is that the much-touted “Crime Commission,” as advocated by Prime Minister Patrick Manning, will be an abject failure in fighting crime. Indeed the opinion is that commissions do not work.

We have had so many commissions before in this country, so many crime plans, that the whole thing now seems like a joke.

The most popular among them was Howard Chin Lee’s plan “Anaconda.” It too failed to create any impact. Crime even escalated under the plan and the Anaconda seemed to have quietly migrated to the Amazon, not long after it was introduced. The net effect was that Chin Lee lost his portfolio as Minister of National Security.

But why does it take the PNM regime six whole years to introduce a crime commission and in an election year? The psychology is clear: to give the impression the Government is serious about fighting crime. What about the last six years? Was the PNM serious?

Crime is now enmeshed in the national psyche. Law-abiding citizens have grown to expect crime; in fact, they now anticipate crime in its most sordid forms.

The shocking kidnap and murder of Vindra Naipaul-Coleman has hardened this nation to such an extent that it has grown accustomed to crime...and are surprised when it does not occur.

Concomitantly, criminals cannot refrain from crime. It is ingrained in their psyche and they strut around knowing they will not be caught.

How many murders have been solved? So, the lawful expect it and the criminals cannot refrain from it.

So, how will a crime commission stop crime? How will people sitting down in an office keep the criminals at bay? What will they and can they do to keep the criminals on the side of the law?

Only a change from this failed regime, which will lead to the revamping and de-politicising of the police service, will reduce crime.

Only a transformed witness protection programme, which will protect witnesses from being killed before they testify in court, can ensure that criminals are put behind bars and, therefore, have an impact on crime.

Only if the judiciary is not politically tainted (white colour crime) and not arbitrarily striking out cases will there be a dent in crime.

Only if drug and gun courts are established to deal with these two important elements in the work of criminals, will crime be reduced.

As it is, there is a serious backlog of cases in the present system.

Manning is blaming the Privy Council, but the UNC regime succeeded in hanging Dole Chadee and his gang while the Privy Council was there. Blaming the PC is a ruse being used by Manning.

Satram Singh


Prices up again

After reading Anand Ramlogan’s article I can’t help but agree with him 100 per cent. I would just like to add places such as Petrotrin, TCL, Unit Trust and all the other government agencies in this country.

On another note, how many of you, my fellow citizens of this beloved country, have checked the prices of foodstuff in the grocery and the market recently?

One morning last week, I went to the Tunapuna Market and the price of onions was $6. I was told the importers have advised the wholesalers that the price of potatoes will increase within the next two weeks. And Kiss has increased the price of its bread by 50 cents.

Question: What is the minister in charge doing about this situation?

The answer to this question seems to be a big fat NOTHING!

While importers in this country are raping the public, you do nothing to protect us.

There is a saying: There is a God. You hear me Honourable Minister...there is a God.

Feeraz Khan

via e-mail

View from Maryland

If the president of Gopio, Devant Maharaj, is serious about political change and transformation in Trinidad and Tobago, then, he must abandon his views about mixed races living in Central Trinidad.

Central Trinidad is not the birth right of East Indians and the government has every right to integrate communities. The integration of communities is healthy for the socio-economic health of the country. Maharaj is operating on the premise that Trinidadians of African descent are all criminals, kidnappers, “good-for-nothing” and lazy. He only has to look to history and see that Central Trinidad had a violent past when the “P” brothers terrorised various neighbourhoods there. Moreover, he has only to look at the various communities where Africans and Indians have lived together over the years.

This bogus view that Africans will corrupt people of Hindu faith must be exposed and laid to rest. Miscegenation will always occur whenever different races co-mingle. We must face up to the fact that Douglas will one day be a majority in T&T and will demand their space. Just as the Latinos are becoming a force, Douglas in T&T will become a force in the USA.

When this occurs, the racial bogeyman will take a back seat. Maharaj knows this, and he is afraid it will become a reality when the communities are mixed.

To show that he is serious about real unity, Maharaj should build an organisation that embraces both races.

If COP succeeds in its bid for the government, whose interest will Maharaj serve? Will it be Gopio? Will it be the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha? Or will it be all the people of Trinidad and Tobago?

Godfrey Vincent

Morgan State University


Nobody’s plaything

Here is a sample of PNM promises:

* Crime commission to fight crime

* Prime Minister Manning vows to elevate and develop Laventille

* Monorail to ease traffic on the nation’s roads

* Sea ferry from San Fernando to Port-of-Spain, also to ease traffic

* Programme for high-risk youth to develop skills in operating heavy equipment and driving buses.

* The creation of 5,000 small businesses annually.

Yet, all of these remain unfulfilled. Why hasn’t the PNM addressed these over the past six years it has been in power?

It seems the PNM only thinks about the people during election time. The question is: will the people allow themselves to be fooled again and fall for the obvious political/election trap?

Say no people of T&T! Send a message to Mr Manning and his government that our political culture has changed. We have become more educated, sophisticated and we analyse the scenario before we vote. Show the Government we are not anybody’s playthings.

Robert Ramdass

UWI graduate

Sisterly advice for Kamla

As a woman who also has gone through a breast cancer scare, which the leader of the Opposition, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is now going through, I just want to tell her, through your newspaper, that I know what it is like and that I am praying for her.

The hardest thing in the world is waiting for the results, and although you put on a brave face and a strong front, I know the fear she must feel inside.

Only those who have gone through this would really know what it feels like. The threat of cancer is not an easy thing to face, and I am proud of her as a female leader for sharing what she is going through with the nation.

It broke my heart to see the insensitivity displayed by certain people with respect to her ordeal.

My advice to her, sister to sister: cling to your faith in God, because that was the only thing that got me through my nightmare.

Lola Raymond


Anything goes

The statement by the Central Bank of T&T that it has a special programme to hire children of its staffers for vacation employment is one that warrants an immediate head-rolling exercise.

As far as I know, Central Bank is owned by the State and not by a private citizen, who would have the right to implement recruitment policies designed to sustain family ownership and control!

But then, under the current administration, anything, except said current administration, goes, ent?

Richard Wm Thomas



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