Pictured Above: Staff of the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services distribute a flood relief cheque to one of the many individuals affected by flooding.
The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services said it began the distribution of flood relief cheques on Thursday (29th December 2022), to the many individuals and families impacted as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding in municipal corporations such as Sangre Grande, Tunapuna/Piarco, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Princes Town, Siparia, Port-of-Spain and Penal/Debe.
The distribution commenced from 9:00 AM on Thursday at the Ministry's Head Office on St. Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. The Ministry said the disaster relief cheques provided in this instance, “is intended to replace household items, school books and school clothing. All other payments for grants will be validated and paid subsequently.”
These grants were paid according to the receipt of the application utilizing the ARCGIS system used by the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government to assess and validate all claims being made. In an effort to ensure that support is provided to affected persons in the shortest possible time, the Ministry is assuring that pending applications will continue to be processed. While distribution of flood relief cheques continue to take place this week, the Ministry also reminds the public that “only persons who are contacted by the Ministry should present themselves, with a valid form of identification, when collecting their cheques.”
For further information and assistance, persons may contact the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services' toll free call centre at 800-1MSD (800-1673), visit the Ministry's website at www.social.gov.tt, or send a message to any of the Ministry's social media platforms.
The Ministry said it “remains resolute to its mandate of helping, empowering, and transforming the lives of all persons, particularly those who are distressed and displaced at this time.”
The Ministry of Health revealed in its weekly COVID-19 update on Tuesday (27th December 2022) that there have been 151 new COVID-19 cases in Trinidad and Tobago plus six (6) unfortunate deaths over the period 21st - 27th December 2022. The rolling 7-day average of new positive cases is twenty-two (22) while the rolling 7-day average of new deaths is one (1).
T&T’s total active positive cases is currently at 129. The country’s death toll has increased to 4,283. As of 27th December 2022, 322 deaths were fully vaccinated persons while 3,571 deaths were not fully vaccinated. 390 deaths were recorded prior to 24th May 2021 (date at which the first group of vaccinated persons became fully vaccinated).
A total of 718,124 persons have been fully vaccinated, representing 51.3% of the population. Meanwhile, 681,876 persons are not fully vaccinated (only received a first dose or no doses), representing 48.7% of the population. 169,325 persons in total have taken a booster shot.
The Ministry states that the number of positive cases reported reflects the samples taken during an 8-day period between 19th - 26th December 2022 and not the last twenty-four (24) hours.
The Ministry also notes that there are currently twenty-nine (29) COVID-19 positive patients in total being treated at Hospitals and step-down facilities. Two (2) are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and none are in the High Dependency Unit (HDU).
The Ministry of Health said in a Media Release on Friday (30th December 2022) that a social media post about a new COVID-19 variant, reportedly issued by the Ministry, is “fake news.”
The post, which referenced a new variant, was not issued by the Ministry. The Ministry notes that all advisories regarding public health, including COVID-19, will be issued by the Ministry itself and can be found on its website and official social media pages.
The public is reminded to share information from official and trusted sources and to refrain from sharing false or misleading information or images.
The Ministry of Works and Transport said in a Media Release on Friday (30th December 2022) that the validity of Maxi Taxi, Letter, Permanent and Temporary Priority Bus Route (PBR) Permits, which expire on 31st December 2022, have been extended to 31st March 2023.
Holders of Permits are advised to adhere to and pay particular attention to the conditions stipulated on PBR Passes to avoid being fined.
The Ministry thanks the public for its usual co-operation.
Please be guided accordingly.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in her New Year’s Message today (Saturday 31st December 2022) that 2022 “has been a difficult and challenging year for our nation.” She spoke about our country witnessing one of the worst industrial accidents in our history, as well as the suffering of citizens due to severe flooding.
Read Persad-Bissessar’s New Year’s Message in full below:
2022 has been a difficult and challenging year for our nation. It was a year in which our country sadly witnessed one of the worst industrial accidents in our history in which four (4) divers at the Paria Fuel Trading Company, Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry, tragically lost their lives.
Pictured Above: One of the high-powered firearms discovered in a suspicious package at a bond in Central Trinidad.
A strategic exercise involving different arms of law enforcement, led to the seizure of a large quantity of high-powered firearms, ammunition and component parts on Thursday (29th December 2022), as well as illegal/unauthorized medication.
According to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), on Thursday, a Specialist Unit of the TTPS and Customs and Excise Division Officials conducted an ongoing profiling operation, at a bond located in Central Trinidad. A package consigned to a Chaguanas man was ‘suspected’ and kept under observation. As such, both consignee and package were secured, and the package was searched.
During the search, the Officers observed that the frame of the package consisted of a hidden bottom compartment. When the team of Officers further checked the compartment, a large quantity of high-powered firearms, magazines, and other components parts for firearms were found.
The TTPS said full details of the firearms will be forthcoming, upon the completion of the process at the Special Evidence Recovery Unit (SERU), of the TTPS.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Crime Scene Investigations (CSI), both of the TTPS, along with the Customs Division, are conducting further enquiries.
Sometime in November 2022, a Specialist Unit of the TTPS, profiled cargo at the said bond, which included packages consigned to a local man, which was sent from a company based in Pakistan. The cargo was described as household items and personal effects. The cargo was flagged and suspected to contain medication. The cargo was then secured and monitored in anticipation of the consignee coming to clear the said cargo.
On 29th December 2022, after a no-show by the consignee, the law enforcement team proceeded to search the cargo in the presence of the Agent of the freight company.
During the search, 200 boxes of Janumet, 50/500mg x 56 tablets per box (Diabetes medication totaling 11,200 tablets), 100 boxes of Coveram, 10mg x 30 tablets per box (Hypertension medication totaling 3,000 tablets) and 200 boxes of Augmentin, 625 mg x 14 tablets per box (Antibiotics totaling 2,800 tablets) were found.
The shipment, however, did not have the required documents to import such items.
In this regard, Customs Officials are continuing investigations.
The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) said in a Media Release today (Saturday 31st December 2022) that it has received information of the arrest and charge of PC Christon Balboza by the Royal Grenada Police Force.
The TTPS is confirming that PC Balboza is a Special Reserve Police (SRP) Officer, who was last attached to the Tobago Division. However, the TTPS notes that PC Balboza has been “deemed inactive since August 2022 as he has not reported for duty.” He enlisted into the organization on 19th December 2014.
PC Balboza, 27, was arrested and jointly charged with Stephen Francis, 28, a fisherman of Victoria, St. Mark, Grenada, for the offence of robbery with violence in connection with the alleged robbery on 22nd December 2022, at the Grand Mal Gas Station.
While the TTPS said it acknowledges that the course of justice must take its course, it “condemns any wrongdoing by any of its Officers and Agents, and reminds the public that its leadership is committed to strengthening its human resource and addressing alleged rouge elements within its rank and file.”
The TTPS continues to “deploy all its available resources to enhance its human resource capacity while maintaining and improving on its core principles of Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Dignity and Excellence - PRIDE.”
Meanwhile, a Press Release from the Royal Grenada Police Force on Friday (30th December 2022), titled ‘Men Charged with Robbery with Violence,’ states that “Christon Balboza, 27 years old, Special Reserve Police Officer, a Citizen of Trinidad & Tobago and Stephen Francis, 28 years old, fisherman of Victoria, St. Mark were arrested and jointly charged for the offence of robbery with violence in connection with the December 22nd robbery at Grand Mal Gas Station. Mr. Francis was also charged for the offence of assault with a dangerous instrument to wit, a gun. Both men were remanded to His Majesty's Prisons. The matter was adjourned to January 10th 2023.”
“Like every other civic minded citizen, I am greatly concerned that we are approaching 600 plus murders, a new and unwanted milestone in our nation’s history. However, as the citizen tasked with the responsibility to address issues of crime and security, this situation drives my resolve and sense of urgency to strategize and implement swift short-term and long-term interventions to impact our crime reduction efforts generally and murders specifically, which will improve the overall sense of safety for all who call Trinidad and Tobago home.”
This from Acting Commissioner of Police, Erla Christopher, in the wake of a toll quickly rising to 600 murders recorded for the year 2022. She added, “The big questions on everyone lips are why, followed by what is the TTPS doing about these murders? Our data points to gang activity as the prevalent probable cause and the prevailing weapon of choice as firearms. The choice that some make to be committed to gang ideals and the availability of firearms remain our greatest vulnerabilities.”
CoP Ag. Christopher noted that strategies are being implemented to tackle this trend now, in the new year and beyond. The GRACE Project is one such initiative which will strengthen the society's ability to resist gang entry and enhance lifestyle choices away from criminal behaviour generally. She went on further to state that investment in the young people, especially those who are seemingly more susceptible to the lure of gang culture, is critical. The Community Policing Section (COPS) are charged with engaging with communities across all ten (10) Policing Divisions, and the over 100 active Police Youth Clubs will continue to play a vital role in the fight to dismantle the ‘gang and gun culture’ that entice some of our nation’s youth.
The Acting Top Cop said that collaboration with like-minded persons and organizations is essential, as she noted that last Friday (23rd December 2022) the TTPS partnered with the U.S. Embassy to host ‘Christmas on the Hill,’ where over 1,000 children were treated to games, rides, food, entertainment and toys — all in an effort to bridge the gap between the Police and the community, as well as to break the ‘border line’ culture, which pits communities against each other in a battle, where lives are lost and no one truly gains.
“Our focus on the seizure of illegal firearms never gets placed on the back burner, as these are the weapons used to commit the vast majority of murders. Anti-crime exercises and operations will continue in earnest as we intend to continue to remove illegal firearms from our communities,” said the Acting Commissioner. “With that being said, I make another clarion call to all, to help us in our efforts, use the contact numbers available, 555, 999, 911, or 800-TIPS or share the information on the TTPS App — if we reduce the number of accessible illegal guns then the number of gun–related homicides should also decrease.”
“I know it is easy to blame us and shame us, and that comes with the territory, while others shoot, the target is always on the Police’s back, as everyone wants us to do something, do more and do it now,” the Acting Commissioner stated. “However, this incessant and expected call for action on the part of the TTPS does not fall on deaf ears. As an organization, we are actively seeking to deal with our deficiencies. We have partnered with local and international organizations to access much–needed training and development programmes for Officers. Homicide Detectives have been updated with the best practices, and the TTPS has benefited from its collaboration with international partners, like the USA, France, South Korea and others in investigative and technical training”, she added.
Commissioner Ag. Christopher also shared that while we all want instant success, some initiatives will take a period of time before the country can reap the rewards of these investments in our human resource capital.
“Have confidence that the TTPS is making significant discoveries and interventions, including initiating prosecutions and we do not compromise our informants. The systems of Crime Stoppers and 555 remain highly confidential as well as the new number, 736-TTPS, to access the Commissioner's direct intervention,” said the Acting Commissioner. “We continue to urge your very necessary support, without which the success of our initiatives will be severely constrained.”
Pictured Above: Suspect Cleon Teesdale, 42.
A Princes Town man is due to appear before the Princes Town First Magistrate’s Court tomorrow, Friday 30th December 2022, after he was charged with murder, attempted murder and firearm-related charges.
Cleon Teesdale, 42, commonly called ‘Salva,’ of Indian Walk, Moruga, was charged today (Thursday 29th December 2022), by Detective Sergeant Ralph Ramroop for the murders of 1-year-old Nova Shai Brereton and her 32-year-old mother, Sachel Kernell Elliot. He was also charged with the attempted murder of 40-year-old Ackiel Brereton, father of Nova Shai Brereton.
According to Police reports, around 7:50 PM on Monday 19th December 2022, Ackeil was visiting baby Nova and Sachel, who ran a mini-mart located at her home. Whilst there, two (2) men in a blue Toyota Aqua vehicle arrived at the premises, where they allegedly exited the vehicle armed with a rifle and started shooting at Ackiel, striking him, 1-year-old Nova and Sachel. The driver and his accomplice then escaped in their vehicle.
While on mobile patrol, W/Sgt Bassarath and PC Ascevero received the report of a shooting and intercepted a vehicle along Manahambre Road and arrested a man. Under the supervision of Detective Inspector Aslim Hosein and Sgt Smith, an Investigative Team of the Homicide Bureau Region III conducted enquiries.
The evidence collated during the investigation was presented before the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs. Joan Honore Paul, who advised that Cleon Teesdale be charged with the murders of Nova Shai Brereton and Sachel Kernell Elliot. He was also charged for the attempted murder of Ackiel Brereton, possession of ammunition, possession of firearm, possession of ammunition to endanger life and possession of firearm to endanger life.
The investigation was spearheaded by Superintendent (Ag.) Sean Dhillpaul.
As the country fast approaches the year-end long weekend, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) continues to urge motorists to exercise care and caution when driving on the nation’s roadways, as two (2) more persons lost their lives over the last forty-eight (48) hours.
On Tuesday morning (27th December 2022), driver Andy Alleyne sustained fatal injuries when he lost control of his Jaguar and crashed into the traffic light pole at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Intersection along the Eastbound carriageway of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway.
Then, just after 6:30 PM on Wednesday evening, a pedestrian was struck dead by a motorist while attempting to cross the Eastbound carriageway of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway from North to South. Police are still seeking the public’s assistance to identify the person.
According to the TTPS, these two (2) road traffic accidents bring the road traffic accident death toll for 2022 to ninety (90), compared to seventy-four (74) for the same period in 2021. Although the figure represents an increase of 22% over 2021, according to records from the Roadway Surveillance Unit of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch, the last time the country recorded a similar road death figure was in 1956. The TTPS notes that, of particular concern for 2022, is the fact that pedestrians account for the largest category of road users being killed on the roadways, with thirty-five (35) of the road traffic deaths compared to twenty-nine (29) in 2021 — a 20% increase.
Commissioner of Police (Ag.), Erla Christopher, is reminding motorists that there will be a heightened presence of law enforcement during the long weekend, with road-policing and anti-crime exercises.
Motorists are reminded to ensure they have their valid driving documents ready for inspection by Police Officers and drivers are warned that breathalyzer and speed enforcement exercises will be “in full effect on both Highways and Main Roads, in keeping with the Agency’s efforts to help save lives and keep families together.”
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