Thursday 20 February, 2020

Round-the-clock security for St Joseph school after gun threat

Government has taken a decision to increase security at the St Joseph Secondary School, following reports of gunmen terrorising students and staff. 

Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday, Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat said the school will now have increased 24-hour security.

Last Wednesday, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) said two gunmen were outside the school attempting to intimidate students and staff. The incident forced the school to be dismissed early. 

A new school building, under construction since 2012, has also been riddled with problems. 

The building has reportedly been looted and vandalised and has become a haven for criminals and students seeking to engage in sexual activity. 

The school is little more than a shell, having been looted of fixtures including tiles, sinks, doors and other items.

The school is situated mere minutes away from the St Joseph Police Station. 

Education Minister Anthony Garcia had said during a news conference that the contractor had abandoned the job, leaving the premises open to looting as well as stray dogs and other animals. A firearm was also found on the compound some time ago and school officials have admitted catching students having sex in the incomplete building.

Questioned in the Senate about what measures were being put in place to put a stop to the illegal activities and secure the safety of students, Rhambarat said a number of measures will be implemented.

"In relation to the existing school, the Ministry has taken three steps. One is to increase the number of security officers available at the school, around the clock. The Ministry has taken steps to have the perimeter fence fortified because of breaches in that fence and thirdly, the Ministry has taken steps to get a contractor to improve the lighting on that school compound,"Rambharat said.

"In relation to the construction site, the Ministry has taken steps to engage a contractor to secure the site, in particular the materials".

Questioned about the cost of these measures, Rambharat said he did not have the information available at the time. 

Opposition Senator Saddam Hosein also questioned why the school has remained a construction site when it was 96 per cent completed at the end of 2015. 

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