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Rain fails to damper Parliament opening
Although it rained in Port-of-Spain on Wednesday, it did not put a damper on preparations or indeed the actual ceremonial opening of Parliament at the International Waterfront Centre. Since the announcement that the opening, involving the President of the Republic George Maxwell Richards inspecting a parade of officers of the protective services, would take place on Wrightson Road in front of the Parliament Building, it was feared that the re-routing of traffic would cause major disruption. However this was not to be. Traffic going west along Independence Square was required to turn north into Edward Street, while motorists heading east shared the eastbound lane.
These arrangements, instituted specifically for the ceremonial opening of Parliament, only caused minor inconvenience as police officers made sure traffic flowed smoothly along the main artery to and from west Trinidad. Originally scheduled to begin at noon, the traffic changes did not kick in until approximately 12:45 pm. Police officers and members of the Defence Force guided motorists along, resulting in a slight jam along Edward Street and Wrightson Road. One female driver, who was on her way to her job at the Hyatt Regency and who had to take the long route to get there said, “This is really sickening.”
Some were unaware as to why there was a pileup in the first place. One taxi driver, when asked how he felt about the traffic, told the T&T Guardian, “Trust me, you wouldn’t like to hear what I have to say.” Another male driver shouted, “This is in a mess.” Police officers, drenched by rain, were unmoved by requests from some to allow them to continue west along the Brian Lara Promenade but they were denied. Clerk of the Parliament, Jacqui Sampson said under the advice of the Speaker of the House they tried to find the easiest way for drivers, seeking to cause as little inconvenience as possible. Sampson, however, said she wished the traffic changes had been publicly circulated earlier.
“I preferred if traffic restrictions were published earlier. We had sufficient meetings in advance. I hope it would have been published on Monday. At the Parliament we did public notices saying there will be traffic restrictions and it would have been published in due course by the Commissioner of Police.” Apart from curious onlookers seeking shelter and every vantage point out of the drizzle to view the historic proceedings, others used the ceremonial opening of Parliament to highlight their views. Among them were Nalini Dial and Sabrian Pitman of the Animals Are Human Too group who said they were protesting against government’s “high-handedness,” and called for the removal of Minister of National Security Jack Warner. Similarly, supporters of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several of her Cabinet colleagues came out in their numbers, clad in yellow t-shirts, many of which read, “We love you PM.”
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