San Fernando chamber: Business community under attack

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President of Greater San fernando Chamber of Commerce Kiran Singh – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

THE Greater San Fernando Chamber of Commerce has condemned the recent spate of killings and said the business community was under attack.

Chamber president Kiran Singh’s comment came after businessman Darryl Dindial, owner of Dindial’s Auto Supplies in Montrose, Chaguanas, was shot dead in a robbery on Thursday.

Singh said the latest update showed 193 murders in a mere 125 days and for such a small population, this figure was astronomical.

He recounted that a retired businessman was murdered on Cipero Street a few weeks ago, a daylight robbery on High Street resulted in the murder of a security guard and two brothers, ownerrs of a hardware store on the Eastern Main Road, were murdered, among others.

“It appears that the business community is under attack…As we continue to say, crime rates are just too high. The entire society is plagued with crime. Criminality is a serious deterrent to investment, commercial activity and tourism.

“This problem must be dealt with. Business prosperity and survivability depends on a safe environment as well.

He said as a businessman and president of the chamber, he found the crime situation “unnerving and distressing, especially because business persons and their families are usual targets. This is our sad reality.”

Singh said the chamber has a close working relationship with the police and the municipal police in San Fernando and while there has been a greater police presence downtown at times, it could be better.

“The chamber is always open to meeting with the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of Police.” he added.

He said a curfew would not help curb or control the spate of criminal activities and would only hinder the business community, which has been recovering from the covid19 pandemic restrictions.

“The chamber is not in support of a curfew. Although businesses are fully reopened, sales are nowhere close to pre-pandemic levels, and many businesses are struggling to remain open.

“We do, however, advocate for more police presence and joint police and army efforts. We also need a more efficient CCTV system to aid in investigation. The detection rates are very low for many serious crimes.”

Additionally, Singh called for a more robust judiciary system in south Trinidad to improve the flow of criminals being brought to justice.

“In San Fernando, the court facilities are shared between the magistrates’ and High Courts. Many heinous crimes are committed, and criminals must be made to feel the full brunt of the laws, but they are never enforced. Lawyers find loopholes to evade the death penalty and their clients live in prison at the expense of taxpayers.”

Singh hoped that as the country emerged from the pandemic and the court moved away from virtual to in-person hearings, the system will move more expediently.