MINISTER CUFFIE PROMISES FURTHER ACTION ON SCRATCH BOMBS AND FIREWORKS

Minister of Public Administration and Communications, the Honourable Maxie Cuffie has assured stakeholders and citizens concerned about the issue of scratch bombs and illegal fireworks that their views have been heard and he will forwarding their suggestions to the Attorney General.

This commitment was given during a week of stakeholder meetings which were part of the Ministry’s anti-scratch bomb campaign themed “Have Fun without Having a Blast.” Since the campaign was launched just over two weeks ago there have been numerous suggestions, concerns and conversations on social and traditional media surrounding the proliferation and wanton use of scratch bombs and fireworks.

On Wednesday December 14, 2016, Minister Cuffie met with executives of FireOne Fireworks to discuss the Government’s crackdown on scratch bombs and the illegal use of fireworks. And on Friday December 16, 2016 the Director of the Human and Environmental Care and Management Foundation (HAECMF), Lisa Ramlogan, brought forward concerns from the animal welfare community. She noted that more and more local vets are reporting cases of animals being brought in after scratch bombs were inserted into their mouths and lit.

In a letter to Minister Cuffie dated December 12, 2016, President of Animals 360 Foundation Incorporated, Derek Mohammed called for fireworks to be banned, “and failing that, the legislation governing the use of fireworks should be strengthened and strictly enforced to ensure controlled and responsible use to protect our citizenry including our elderly, infirmed, infants and animals”.

The Minister, in meeting with stakeholders, reaffirmed that the objective of the Scratch Bomb Public Awareness is to eliminate the use and stop the importation of scratch bombs in Trinidad and Tobago. He advised that the Ministry’s campaign is based on strong collaboration with the Ministry of National Security and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, who have “committed to treat firmly” with the scratch bomb issue. However, he advised, “it is incumbent on the

population and we as citizens” to not participate in illegal activities, and to report to the police incidents of scratch bombs.

Minister Cuffie appealed to the hearts and minds of citizens to desist from the use of scratch bombs because of the damage caused by them. During Divali celebrations of this year, a grandmother of Talparo, Sally-Ann Cuffie (no relation to Minister Cuffie) was seriously injured when a scratch bomb exploded in her hand as she attempted to shield her grandchild from its blast.

Scratch bombs are illegal and, according to Section 99 and 100 of the Summary Offenses Act, the use of fireworks in an area defined as a “town”, including Port of Spain, without permission from the Commissioner of Police at least 48 hours in advance, is illegal and subject to a $1,000 fine.