Tobago Muslim leader calls for overhaul of traffic system

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tobago Muslim Organisation president Kameel Ali. – File photo by David Reid

KAMEEL ALI, president of the Tobago Muslim community, has called for a complete overhaul of the country’s traffic system.

He made the call on April 10 at Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations at the Masjid Al Tabwah, Hampden, Lowlands.

Eid-ul-Fitr culminates the holy month of Ramadan – a period of prayer, fasting and reflection for Muslims.

Ali believes traffic congestion is contributing to Trinidad and Tobago’s worsening crime situation.

“Trinidad is a mess where traffic is concerned,” he said.

Ali said the country cannot have a population of around 1.5 million people and the same number of cars on the nation’s roadways.

“There must be a complete overhaul of the traffic situation in Trinidad.”

He said China has been proactively addressing its traffic situation by building a labyrinth-like interchange comprising 20 lanes and building bridges longer than the distance between Trinidad and Tobago “because they see the need for these things.”

Ali said, “As people and as communities, when we see things, we speak out so those in authority can address what is taking place and they can do things so that they can make our lives easier and simpler so that we could get the job done.”

A traffic jam in Port of Spain in February. – File photo

The Muslim leader believes the country’s crime situation requires “a real coming together of everyone.

“The crime situation is affecting everyone, irrespective of if you are rich, poor, whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Catholic.”

Ali said religious bodies must be engaged in the fight.

“This is where the religious bodies need to come together to work with the government to see how we could solve some of these problems that are facing Trinidad and Tobago.

“When times are changing there must be strategic alliances between each and every one, whether you are in government or whether you are in Opposition. There must be a collaboration of each and everyone so that we can deal with some of these problems.”

He urged the gathering to do some soul-searching.

“A lot of people have been longing for change. But true change can only come when we start changing ourselves. This is when change would really come to really make your country great.”

In his address, Ali also called for the establishment of a prayer room at the ANR Robinson International Airport.

He also wants the THA to consider developing a fresh plot of land for a cemetery for not just Muslims but people of all religions.

Ali said the Muslim cemetery at Bacolet, like many others on the island, is overflowing.

He praised the THA for establishing what he believes is the island’s first religious State entity – the Tobago Faith-Based Council.

The masjid’s imam, Brother Khaleel, in his address, preached the need for love and forgiveness.

He said, “In our lives, each and every one of us, we know ourselves. We know what it is that brings us closer to our Creator. We know what it is that brings that love for our Creator in our lives, whatever good deed it might be.

“Whatever it is that you do, you need to hold on to that, whatever prayer, whatever meal you want to prepare for your husband and your wife. Whatever it is good that you want to do that you know will bring you closer to your Creator, hold on to it, keep it in your hearts because this is where the change starts.”

Khaleel said it is only when people have love, mercy and peace in their hearts, that forgiveness and change can be achieved.

“If we want our Creator to forgive us, to forgive me, I need to learn how to forgive. If I want my Creator to love me, I need to learn how to love. If I want my Creator to have mercy on me, I need to have mercy on others. These are some of the things that as individuals we need to hold on to.”