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Tobago Not Prepared for Security Threats: Minority Leader

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Immediately following last week’s bomb scare at the Scarborough port, Minority Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly ,Watson Duke, said Tobago “is unprepared for the emergency.”

“Is there anyone on this island who is sufficiently trained and sufficiently resourced for the detection and neutralisation of a bomb? As you know Tobago has a shortage of skilled persons and so what we have is a boat, which has not yet been thoroughly examined,” Duke said after passengers and crew were given the clearance to reboard the vessel.

According to the Minority Leader, no one employed by the various arms of the National Security Ministry is trained in what he calls “the detection and disarming of improvised explosive devices”.

“Now we have these terrorists using what they called improvised explosive devices it could be in a football it could be a shoe it could be in a camera.” What are the methods used to detect what we call electronic detection devices?” Duke asked.

He also asked: “Where was the sweeper, what kind of sweeper did they use is it one from 1901 and who was the head of the bomb squad or they have simply fooled us?”

Noting that the current chaos on the interisland seabridge “cannot continue ”,Duke went on to say the upcoming Tobago budget presentation, carded for June 20th, should focus on the interisland sea and air bridges and the island’s tourism sector.

Last Friday, hundreds of passengers on board the T&T Express were asked to disembark the T&T Express and gather at the nearby First Citizens Bank carpark after an anonymous phone call alerted the authorities about the possible bomb threat.

According to Assistant Director of the Tobago Emergency Management Authority Earl Hernandez, a unified command post was established at the Western gate of the Port with TEMA, TTPS, TTFS, TTCG, and the port authority.

The TEMA official said: “At 8:18am an initial bomb sweep was completed by the TTPS on all 129 vehicles and the vessel and crew members were given clearance to board the boat to conduct further searches in accordance with standard operational procedure.”

He said the bomb threat was received at 6:45 and the port’s staff was given clearance to resume operations at 8:45 am.