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What should women with dodgy transport options do? Rowley: ‘Just be careful’

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said there are still ‘monsters’ around us, when asked to comment on the rape and murder of 18-year-old Ashanti Riley, who was abducted sometime after she left home in a ‘PH’ taxi on Sunday 29 November.

Rowley noted too, at a press conference this afternoon, that taxi drivers need a certificate of good character to operate, while the ‘PH’ system allows less savoury characters to transport potentially vulnerable passengers.

Photo: Teenager Ashanti Riley was raped and murdered, after leaving her home to visit her grandmother on 29 November 2020.

“[There is a] danger of every Tom, Dick and Harry being allowed to manage a vehicle and then you end up with this as an outcome,” said Rowley.

However, the prime minister did not suggest anything new when asked what women should do when travelling late at night, with only ‘PH’ drivers operating.

“Given the practicalities of the situation, we have to be always cognisant of our personal safety,” said Rowley. “[…] Just be careful.”

The prime minister also set a target of 8 February 2021 for a return to the physical school ground for standard five students as well as students in forms four to six.

Trinidad and Tobago’s students have generally been restricted to online learning since March, with the exception of exams for standard five, form five and upper six students as well as for the preparation of SEA students.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes (right) sits with students from her alma mater, Bishop Anstey High School (POS) at her inauguration ceremony on 19 March 2018.
(Courtesy Office of the President)

The new school term will begin virtually on 4 January 2021. But, should the infection rate remain at a ‘manageable’ level, the government is ready to begin a partial return to the physical classroom. Students returning to school will be masked and Rowley promised ‘intensive sanitising and intensive sanitisation’.

There should also be a ‘roving school district safety team’ set up by the County Medical Health Offices and managed by the Ministry of Education, which will go from school to school to ensure that the relevant safety protocols are followed.

The Ministry of Health revealed that there were 16 new cases of Covid-19 today—five of which are from Tobago. There are 772 active cases of the novel coronavirus at present with 42 hospitalised, 642 in home self-isolation, 214 in state quarantine facilities and 22 in step-down facilities.

From the persons in self-isolation, 186 are in the care of the prison system.

The government announced that supermarkets will be allowed to operate for 24 hours during the Christmas season, from 10 December to 3 January—with the usual Covid-19 protocols.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright Office of the Parliament 2020)

However, Rowley warned that most of the persons who wish to return home for Christmas would be unable to do so. There are over 15,000 applications for travel exemptions from nationals, according to Minister of National Security Stuart Young, with 1,549 new requests within the last two weeks alone.

Were the government to try to please everyone, Rowley said, we might as well re-open the borders; and that is not an option.

He again urged citizens to be mindful of how their behaviour can contribute to the spread of the virus.

“Whatever happens to us—good, bad, or worse—will be down to the personal behaviour of the population,” he said.

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  1. As communities we need to take better care of each other and stop relying on the government to do everything. We can do something very simple like create our own registry of PH drivers in our areas and warn females to use the vehicles and drivers in the registry only….it could work….is it not worth it to try something/anything to prevent such tragedies?

  2. “…after this ALL PH drivers should be illegal.”

    News flash, Mr Chase, PH drivers are NOT legal now–even if the authorities tolerate them and large sections of the travelling public behave as if they are. The prpblem clearly is not mere legality, as a re-read of your own comment would probably have made clear.

    Try reading today’s Sunday Express editorial and see if that helps you to grasp the larger dimensions of the problem.

  3. It’s an easy fix Dr Rowley and CoP Griffith ALL PH drivers have 2weeks to come in to the police and register after this they will be given a fluorescent Green sticker with special decals so everyone will know that this driver is registered and certified ,also these said drivers have 18months to become official H taxi drivers after this ALL PH drivers should be illegal. Note everyone one has a smartphone women and young girls travelling by themselves should take a picture of the driver and send it to their Facebook or IG page for security or send it to a friend.