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A grim crime milestone this week

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Even as public outrage builds over the latest spate of murders—16 in just the first four days of December—this week also marks a grim milestone in T&T’s recent history.

The story that gripped the country for several days a year ago this week was the disappearance of 20-year-old Republic Bank employee Shannon Banfield on December 5 and the discovery of her body a few days later, on December 8, at the back of a popular store located in the heart of the Port-of-Spain shopping district on Charlotte Street.

Even in a population that often appears desensitised to matters of crime and violence, the tragedy of Shannon, whose body was found beneath boxes in the storage room of IAM and Company, the brutality of her death struck a nerve.

However, that was not the first time, or even the only time since then, that a particularly heinous killing has triggered cries for justice and expressions of outrage. The problem is that national outrage quickly subsides along with any real effort to stop the waves of death and destruction that constantly sweep across this country. That has become a sad new normal for T&T.

The cries and complaints reached another crescendo days after Shannon and just 13 days into 2017, when the body of 16-year-old schoolgirl Rachael Ramkissoon was found in some bushes in San Raphael.

The teen, still dressed in her uniform, met an untimely end because she was late to catch a school bus that morning after staying up late the night before studying for an exam.

This time last year, the focus was on the a disturbingly high number of incidents of violence against women that had been taking place. Add to that, 12 months later, the worrying trend of criminal gangs and even more bloodshed.

Billions have been spent to acquire CCTV cameras, monitoring devices, forensic equipment and other crime fighting systems but after all that, there is still very little progress in fighting crime to the extent that T&T is well on the way to surpassing the 478 murders recorded in 2016.

That is a milestone no one in this country should want to achieve.

Money worries for Education Ministry

First it was the caterers in the School Feeding Programme complaining that they had not been paid. On Monday, students at Bishop’s Centenary College were sent home half day because, thanks to a debt owed by the Ministry of Education, teachers at that private secondary school had not yet been paid their salaries to October.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there is also the ongoing matter of students on scholarships abroad struggling to get by because funds for their studies and upkeep have not been released by the ministry.

In recent weeks, it seems, Education Minister Anthony Garcia has been spending a great deal of time dealing with money problems. This is not a good look for the ministry which has recently had to scale back on the GATE programme at tertiary level institutions.

Education is an important investment in the future prosperity of the country. It should be given higher priority when it comes to budgetary allocations.

Happy birthday, Granny Luces

Happy 90th birthday to a local legend, Lynette “Granny” Luces, who has been inspiring local runners ever since she made her marathon debut in 1983 at age 55. She continues to be living proof of the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle.


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