Express Editorial : Daily

Tropical Storm Karen has left Tobago battered and Trinidad anxious over the prospect of increased flooding with river waters expected to rise overnight.

While Trinidad experienced widespread flooding with several rivers bursting their banks, Tobago suffered blown roofs, collapsed houses, damaged business places, multiple landslides and extensive flooding. Trinidad’s water supply has also been affected by turbid river conditions, siltation and power failures at WASA’s treatment plants.

The relief is that there has been no loss of life. While some braved the weather for reasons of their own, most people appeared to have heeded the authorities’ call to stay put and not get in the way of emergency personnel trying to do their work. They stayed home and made the most of social media by sharing videos and information while staying in touch with the news and each other.

The Government seemed to have learned from the mistakes of October last year when a large swathe of the country went under water for days, resulting in massive human dislocation and property damage. National Security Minister Stuart Young led a ministerial team early yesterday that took pains to emphasise how prepared the Government was for any eventuality, perhaps at the expense of connecting to the actual experiences of people who were under pressure. Its initial statements seemed disconnected from the unfolding situation in Tobago even as the island was taking the brunt of Karen’s weather system. Nonetheless, the elements were in place. Shelters were opened, first responders at the local government level were activated, health facilities were on alert and all the elements of a co-ordinated response to the storm seemed to be in place.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm it was the right decision to keep schools closed today and to allow the resumption of the work week, assuming the risk of flooding subsides. Children should be kept out of unnecessary distress and possible harm. Fortunately, the system was not overly tested by the storm, especially Trinidad which experienced the impact of a few feeder bands. Alongside the survey of damage, mopping-up operations and repairs, the emergency services should prioritise a thorough review of its handling of tropical storm Karen with a view to further improvement. The hurricane high season is upon us, and although Trinidad and Tobago’s location generally affords a certain protection from storms churning across the Atlantic, it would be folly to take anything for granted.

However, not even the best laid disaster plans will protect Trinidad and Tobago from the combination of nature’s fury, weak infrastructure, an absence of development planning and continued clogging of waterways with garbage by irresponsible citizens .

While an emergency plan can mitigate disasters, it will not help Trinidad and Tobago to escape the problems created by decades of haphazard governance and mis-management of the physical environment. These are big-ticket problems that demand resolute governance, major investment and unrelenting enforcement, none of which can be engaged in the midst of the hurricane season.

The recent flooding of the capital after routine rainfall suggests that the ameliorative projects promised for rainy season 2019 were not implemented necessitating a deferment of hope for yet another year.

Hopefully, until then, T&T’s luck will continue to hold.


Public confidence in any government is not helped when the family of a senior government minister is the beneficiary of State contacts. In the case of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, contracts to his relatives run to over $20 million a year for the rental of property, according to an exclusive Sunday Express report. Put in context, this works out to 8.5 per cent of the State’s annual bill for the rental of private property.

I wish to thank the endorsers of the statement on the “Education of Children of African Origin” articles that appeared in this paper recently. The statement rightly raised several issues of inequality in access to quality education in T&T, by black children (among others).

Every employee in Trinidad and Tobago, regardless of if they work in the public or private sector, is entitled by law to certain rights.

I have been working with the United Nations on Violence against the Women/Gender-Based Violence for the past ten years in Africa, the Arab world, and Eastern Europe. And in Trinidad and Tobago we have had one of those recent uproars over the killing of women and the search for causes. And the primary cause stares us in the face.

The state of existence as a tribalist is when one is living with a distinctive characteristic so as to be identified with a particular identifiable distinctive group. This status quo surfaces to facilitate the tribal member who is excessively loyal to his own group. 

LISTENING to President Paula-Mae Weekes’s address on the reopening of the Red House, even the most sceptical among us could not help but be impressed, indeed be moved, by her departure on the role she was expected to play and the sentiments she was expected to express as head of officialdom, to be a spokesperson for the people on the ground pointing to their “hurt” and the inability of the leadership to address this hurt.