Saturday Express Editorial

It has taken eight years from when this idea was first known to have been mooted publicly for a decision to be taken that glass bottles would not be allowed on the streets during Carnival this year and onwards.

That decision was communicated at a news conference in Port of Spain yesterday. It was hosted by Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, and was attended by a host of “stakeholder” representatives, all of whom either supported or endorsed the principle.

With safety and security for revellers, spectators and members of the public generally as the major concern, the minister announced the decision that glass bottles will not be allowed, on the streets anywhere in Trinidad and Tobago between 4 a.m. on Carnival Monday and midnight Carnival Tuesday.

Citizens and visitors alike are being encouraged to have their beverages in plastic containers, or risk having them confiscated by police officers.

The point has to be made, that as far as public policy decision-making goes in Trinidad and Tobago, eight years is a relatively short time from when an idea is first mooted, to the time it becomes reality. On this score, therefore, the authorities should be complimented. It was sometime after Carnival celebrations last year that the National Security Minister announced he was “putting the population on alert” that he intended to move on this initiative to have something in place by Carnival 2020.

It was an intention first trumpeted in 2012 by then Port of Spain Mayor Mr Louis Lee Sing.

Among those interested parties who all gave testimony yesterday, to the wisdom of the idea and the road it has travelled thus far, were such groups and agencies as Carib Brewery, Pan Trinbago, the National Carnival Commission (NCC), the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Bands Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Beverage Alcohol Alliance, Solid Waste Management Company Ltd and Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

In making the announcement of the decision at yesterday’s news conference, Minister Young spoke of how heartened he was to have learned in the process of the discussions on the ban on glass bottles of how a small industry has developed around it. This, he said, involved vendors who would be stationed outside fetes and other public activity venues, providing opportunity for patrons to exchange their glass bottles for plastic containers.

Giving his organisation’s full backing to the initiative, the representative from SWMCOL described it as a perfect fit with the company’s vision 2030 theme which involves “placing the environment at the centre of the country’s social and economic development”.

The NCC operates medical facilities at several of its theatres of operation during the Carnival season and, it has been pointed out, many of the injuries for which revellers and spectators are treated result from the use of glass bottles. Some of those injuries, we have been informed, are “not so minor”.

A lot of work remains to be done on getting the message out even louder and clearer from yesterday’s news conference, but a significant start has now been made on this front.

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