Security officers

Keeping it clear: Security officers cordon off the area in front of the Office of the Attorney General at Richmond Street, Port of Spain, yesterday.

“Port of Spain is a mad place. As long as it’s Port of Spain, it’s tense moments for truckers. It has been like that for a number of years in the capital city. It’s a port of pain.”

So said businessman Glen Boodoo, who set out to deliver spoons, but failed to make contact with anyone at the Eric Williams Financial Complex, Independence Square, Port of Spain, yesterday.

Reports of a bomb scare spread like wildfire at the Complex, called the “Twin Towers”. The first tower houses the Central Bank and the second tower houses the Finance Ministry.

The scare turned out to be smoke from the Destruction Room at the Central Bank, located next to the vault, which triggered the alarm, and all personnel were evacuated from the buildings.

The TTPS said further enquiries revealed the source of the smoke was a worn gear wheel belt on a compressor.

Staff mustered at the front entrance opposite the Brian Lara Promenade.

The bomb scare prompted some more tension and anxiety, since there was a loud explosion at the Parkade along Edward Street, on Monday.

Security guards, upon investigating, found a mangled device in a garbage bin.

It led to areas of Downtown Port of Spain being cordoned off, and workers were evacuated swiftly. People panicked and fled the city.

On edge

every day

Interviewed by the Express yesterday on the street outside the Twin Towers, Boodoo said: “We went to the basement and spoke to the security. But nobody was available. He called all the extensions. Then he said they were probably still out of the building.

“I would return the spoons to the office, write up a return, and hope they would turn up for it. Nothing like that has happened before. Normally it would take a little time. But nothing like this.”

Asked how he felt about the unease in the capital city, Boodoo said: “ It’s terrible for the truck drivers. It makes it very dangerous for us. Doing deliveries in town is a high risk.

“Every day, you are on edge. It’s impossible to get a park in town. And the so-called bandits are threatening to break into the trucks.”

Boodoo added: “They are bullying you as though you owe them something. We don’t carry extras, and when we come up short, we have to pay for it.

“I venture to Charlotte and George streets. It’s a terror for me. It’s even worse since things are hard with Covid-19. People not getting regular work.

“They are trying to advantage you to take whatever little you have. I had another truck and they took my money and stuff like that.”

Boodoo also related another experience: “When I am passing through ‘The Plannings’, they does be saying ‘driver, you don’t give us anything’.

“But we don’t carry phones, money or bank cards.

“You have to keep it under lock and key. It’s been like that for a while. Not now. For some years.

“You wish you could see police officers on every corner, but they give you a horn, and drive off. You would feel a sense of safety if you saw more police officers.”

An employee, who was on her way to pick up her son, said outside the Central Bank tower: “We were not told what happened. We just had to muster to the front.

“Then we went back in. Both Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance were impacted.

“Everybody went back to work. We just have to cope.”

Extra alert

A few minutes later, fire tenders were spotted making their way to the Wrightson Road headquarters. At the Edward Street Parkade, a security guard complained of being “overworked”.

She said: “Yesterday (Monday) was busy. You could not even venture on the compound because we were evacua­ting people. The staff is out today.

“People are not as tense, but everybody is advised to be alert. The fire trucks just left. They over-nighted.”

Braving the rain with brollies, staff said they had “no comment”, while others said everything was okay. Newspaper vendor Marlene Mohan said: “The security guards should be extra alert. They are penetrating buildings.

“People just want to cause havoc and destruction. Things are already bad in the country. We can’t continue like that.”

Several people said they felt people were causing tension and anxiety in the city.

Martinez:

City on edge

In a brief phone interview yesterday, Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez said: “The city was on edge. I understand there was an ­incident by Central Bank today. I am still awaiting a ­report.

“I am disappointed in Monday. Business had ground to a halt in the city. Hard-working people scurried out of town.

“We had to deal with mischief makers and people who can’t fathom we have lost so much time during the pandemic. Now is a time for us to come together as stakeholders and ­citi­zens.

“We need to reinvent ourselves, add value to the city, and help rejuvenate it. We need to be civic-minded, and adopt a responsible attitude and work ethic.”

Martinez also gave people who traverse the city the assurance that the Municipal police and the Police Service will be working in tandem to ensure their safety.

“They won’t have to suffer this kind of anxiety and stress again. They will use the technology available to ensure people are safe,” he said.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Twenty-six additional Covid-19 deaths reported yesterday took the death toll for the first five days of December past 100.

The 26 deaths increased fatalities this month to 104. The death toll since the start of the pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago is now 2,262.

Recommended for you