|PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar checks out one of the new patrol vehicles|
I am very pleased to be here this afternoon for the launch of the rebranded Highway Patrol Vehicles of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
I am sure that the colours of these vehicles will be spotted a mile away by those errant drivers on our nation’s roads.
I have received many complaints in the last three years of a virtual non-existent Highway Patrol Unit. I travel the highway from north to south regularly and I must admit that I do not see Police Patrols on a regular basis.
I was told that one of the reasons for the absence of the Highway Patrol Unit, was the shortage of vehicles.
Mr. Commissioner, we heard your pleas and today, we are happy that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is strengthened with the acquisition of the first batch of 300 vehicles on order.
I have noticed that the absence of the Highway Patrol, has given drivers the opportunity to do as they want. They drive indiscriminately, not caring for other drivers who use the roads.
The statistics would show that at various locations along with the Uriah Butler and Solomon Hochoy Highways, speeding motorists cross the median and plunge into other vehicles on the opposite side, causing mayhem, grief, and multiple casualties.
They bring grief to many families when there should be none.
Too many lives were lost by drivers who speed, who consume alcohol, or both. Statistics also show that many of the errant drivers were young persons, given a dangerous weapon as a motor vehicle.
Because of the wanton disregard for human life by these drivers, your Government took the decision to install cable barriers along the north-south Highway.
The Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Highways Division, took on the task of installing these barriers. I am told that since those barriers were installed in 2011, many lives were saved as vehicles were prevented from crossing the median.
We have also installed concrete barriers on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway. One wonders, if these barriers were in place on the Churchill Roosevelt Highway, the lives of Justice Wendell Kangaloo and four young persons, may have been saved in May 2012.
We have erected 11 Surveillance Bays along the north-south highway, especially for the Highway Patrol vehicles to get easy access north and south.
The sight of a police Highway Patrol vehicle would give a speeding, errant motorist, something to think about. The site of the Highway Patrol vehicle may save a life.
How is it that when we, Trinidad and Tobago nationals, go abroad and drive, we obey the traffic laws of those countries? How is it that we do not break traffic lights or speed?
But right here in Trinidad and Tobago, we break the law with impunity. I am told that right outside the Hyatt Hotel in Port-of-Spain, the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure installed a camera, and every day without fail, numerous motorists break the traffic lights. It is there for all to see.
We continue to drive defective vehicles, we continue not to wear seat belts, and we continue to drive and speak on the cell phones, despite a penalty of a $1,000 fine.
To the officers of the Highway Patrol, you have an important task.
Pay attention to the law breakers, and it is only when you start enforcing the laws aggressively, would errant motorists take heed.
I agree with Minister Griffith when he stated that we must not be complacent although the road fatality figure for 2013 is 23 percent less than 2012.
While we grabble with the rising murder rate, and the increase in gang activity, road deaths are something that can be prevented, or minimized.
We must always be pro-active, we must always be looking at finding ways to improve what we do.
It grieves me when someone loses his or her life in an accident. It further grieves me when that someone is very young. The Ministry of Transport has been having consultations with the various stakeholders.
Arrive Alive, a very vocal NGO, has been on the campaign trail to reduce the carnage on the roads.
Let us all play our part to reduce carnage on our roads. It gives me great pleasure to launch the rebranded Highway Patrol Vehicles of the Police Service.
May God bless us all, and May God bless our beautiful nation, Trinidad and Tobago. I thank you.
Friday 25th October 2013