Days Until Christmas
November 9, 2011 by staff
Days Until Christmas, After being on curfew lockdown for two months and 17 days, hoteliers, club owners and business people in south Trinidad are calling for a continuation of roadblocks and police patrols as they prepare for a bumper Christmas this year. With just 47 days left before Christmas, president of the Penal/Debe Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Lincoln Ragbirsingh, said sales had been slower this year, presumably because of the state of emergency and curfew. He explained that with the end of the curfew, business owners now were able to prepare mentally and economically for the season. “We have to be ready for the surge of commerce that we expect to see. Stockwise, we have to be prepared. People are excited now that the curfew is over and now we shall be able to see Christmas, providing the customer has money to spend,” Ragbirsingh said.
He praised the Government for maintaining the state of emergency throughout T&T, saying it will be a deterrent to criminals. Asked whether he expected an upsurge in crime, Ragbirsingh said: “I don’t think the criminals are so brave. The state of emergency is still in effect so criminals will still be on their guard because the police will be looking for them.” Owner of Harry’s Beach Resort, Vishnu Jaimungal, said hoteliers were relieved the curfew had ended. He added: “Our bookings had gone down to way below 50 per cent during the curfew but despite this we still had our regular customers. “Many people found it hard to drive down to Mayaro after work because of the curfew hours. Now that the curfew has ended, we are expecting an increase in guests.”
However, he added, police must continue their roadblocks and 24-hour monitoring of criminals. “It is common knowledge that criminals conduct their illicit activities under the cover of night and the police must be vigilant, else the disbanding of the curfew will not make any sense,” Jaimungal added. Meanwhile, several club owners also rejoiced. Owner of Privileged Nightlife, previously Prive Club Level, Rajesh Chhita, said clubs had experienced tremendous losses after the curfew was imposed. “We managed to keep our heads above water by having indoor parties but there was still a 50 per cent reduction in patrons. Now that it is over, we will be seeing a brighter Christmas and a bumper weekend,” he added.
Since Monday’s announcement by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that the curfew had ended, Chhita said the nightclub office had been getting numerous calls from patrons requesting to be on the Friday night list. Owner of Space La Nouba, Selwyn Persad, said he experienced a 90 per cent reduction in patrons during the curfew. He said he wanted the state of emergency to continue, although he welcomed the end of curfew. He said Space had 300 “likes” on Facebook from fans who supported an end to the curfew. Vendors who operate around the Palmiste Park said they too were happy. One burger vendor said he had lost a lot of business, especially from drag racers and “clubbers” who were restricted by the curfew. The state of emergency and curfew took effect from 9 pm on August 21. On September 4, Parliament extended it by three months to December 5.
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