Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why Is Trinidad and Tobago Stopping RedJet?

Should Price Be Our Primary Concern?

A couple of months ago I posted about RedJet the new regional airline carrier with a super low fare of $10 USD coming to Trinidad and Tobago.  Because of that post, I think I owe it to readers of this blog to set the record straight.

The most conscise and objective reason offered for the delay in granting RedJet a license to operate in Trinidad and Tobago was written by a regular columnist in the Trindad Express. Mr. Reginal Dumas.

The following is a reproduction of that article entitled:

The REDjet issue

By Reginald Dumas

I haven't been paying much attention to the REDjet confusion; the bassa bassa at Caribbean Airlines has been much more fascinating. But the matter keeps rearing its head, so I thought I would cast a preliminary eye in its direction.

I seem to recall the representatives of REDjet telling the public here that the airline had been approved for service by the relevant Barbados authorities and that, under the Caricom multilateral air services agreement, it was, on the strength of that approval,

automatically entitled to operate commercially into and out of T&T.
There was a time when I knew a great deal about air services--I led this country's negotiating team for about 15 years--but I have forgotten much. Nonetheless, it struck me that REDjet's position, if I am correctly representing it, could not be correct. There is very little automaticity in air services matters. You have to bargain hard for what you want, and you may not get it.

The Caricom multilateral agreement can be found on the Caricom website. In its preamble it defines a Caricom air carrier as "an air carrier which is owned by a company or other legal entity constituted in a Member State in conformity with the law thereof and has its registered office in a Member State, the majority of the shares of which are owned by one or more Member States or their nationals and which is effectively controlled by such State or States or nationals thereof". The language is awkward, but you get the drift.

On this basis, is REDjet a Caricom carrier? It is certainly registered in a member state (Saint Lucia) and has its corporate offices in another (Barbados). But who owns it? Who controls it? A hallowed concept in air services is "substantial ownership and effective control". Does REDjet satisfy that criterion for Caricom carrier status?

But even if it is a Caricom carrier (and it appears not to be), Article 2 of the Caricom agreement states that such a carrier "shall not be permitted to operate within the Community unless it has been issued with an operating licence by a Member State". REDjet, Caricom carrier or not, obviously has an operating licence from Barbados, but Article 2 goes on: "(S)uch a licence does not in itself confer any rights of access to specific routes or markets within the Community." (My emphasis.) No automaticity there.

And there follow several requirements the carrier must satisfy, including Caricom substantial ownership and effective control, and provision of a business plan which must "demonstrate its ability to meet actual and potential obligations for a period of 36 months from the commencement of the proposed operations".

Did REDjet do all that before its publicity about a May 8 start-up date? If so, and in the absence at that time of an Air Transport Licensing Authority board (the entity to handle such matters), who gave REDjet the go-ahead, and on what authority?

I shall mention only two other Articles of the agreement. Article 6 says that "the carrier's application to the aeronautical authority of the other Member State" – in this case, T&T – "(must be) made at least 45 days or such shorter period as may be agreed by the aeronautical authorities prior to the proposed commencement of the service." Did REDjet (which is still to show me it is a Caricom carrier) do this? Were the aeronautical authorities of T&T and Barbados in contact with each other before REDjet's announcements on dates? If so, did they agree on anything and, if so, what?

And Article 15 speaks of tariffs, which among other things must not be "unreasonably discriminatory" (which suggests they could be discriminatory). Could a US$10 fare between here and Barbados be considered so?

The publication Barbados Today of May 16 quotes "well-placed sources" in Barbados as saying that T&T, in not having yet given the green light to REDjet, is breaching not only the Caricom air services agreement but also Articles 6 and 7 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, the T&T/Barbados air services agreement, and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) air transport agreement. Quite a mouthful.

Article 6 of the Chaguaramas Treaty sets out the objectives of the Community, all of which, in my opinion, are constantly either violated or insufficiently promoted by all members of the Community. Article 7 deals with non-discrimination, and states in part that "any discrimination on grounds of nationality only shall be prohibited." I wonder how many Barbados immigration officials are familiar with that Article? And what is REDjet's nationality?

As for the ACS agreement (I haven't read the T&T/Barbados bilateral, which I'm told I negotiated), it too insists on substantial ownership and effective control, which must be vested in an ACS member state or states or associate member(s) and/or its or their nationals before authorisation can be granted for air transport services.

And REDjet really must tell us more about itself. What is its relationship to Airone Ventures Ltd? Who owns the latter? What is the breakdown of shareholding? What is its relationship to Digicel, for which its founder Robbie Burns used to work? Why did it seek national carrier status in Jamaica in 2007? What happened? Why? Who owns REDjet? Who controls it?

• Reginald Dumas is a former head of theTrinidad and Tobago Public Service.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Caribbean People - Be Careful - This Year’s Hurricane Could Teach Us A Lesson

Don't Get Caught With Your  Hurricane Pants Down

Caribbean people should be battening the hatches and getting ready for the next
hurricane season.  It’s coming soon. 

There is almost a guarantee that it will hit at least one island in the Caribbean. 

When Katrina hit a few years ago I lived in Coral Springs Florida and I have never seen anything like it. 

When the storm subsided over 50% of the houses were without roofs.  Fortunately, I lived in a community where the roof was made of clay tiles. 

 I experienced the "what the hell" feeling when i witnessed flying off S tiles being embedded into the roofs of parked cars. Slamming into earth violently sticking like thrown knives.  It was as if God was up
there somewhere with a large slingshot just shooting down tiles and everything else He could find. .
Imagine the sight of what seemed like 100 year old fichus trees that lined the side walk in Ft Lauderdale uprooted as if they were mere weeds.  

Laying upturned, pointing skyward and the earth below torn open just like an earthquake; side walk and road wide open. 

Wonder what will happen if the Islands in the Caribbean were hit with a category 3 or 4 hurricane?.

Roofs will go first but the way houses are built in the Caribbean it’s not hard to imagine the entire structures being blown away.   

What's even more bewildering is the Island mentality. Last year when hurricane warnings were announced in Trinidad enterprising Trinis decided to have “Storm Parties”.  

And yes, it is what you're thinking, regular drink, dance and make merry parties.  Not held in fortified buildings but at the local bar where patrons can weather the storm out while getting wasted. 
The same mentality existed with the officials. At one hurricane shutter presentation to the local Office of Disaster Preparedness Management, ODPM the attitude was "we really dont need it"..  The organization had the authority to rally all the high ranking official in the protective services to hear the presentation.     

The officials came listened to real reasons why all government building should be equipped with hurricane shutters.  None opted to have it installed.  Some were a little curious but most thought that it was not necessary, afterall "God is a Trini” they say,  "He will protect us"   Let's hope so. 

The building material company even offered to install the shutters at the ODPM building at a steep discount but they never took the offer.    

A building with large sections of glass, tasked with the job of preparing the nation for natural disaster and they are still unprepared.  What good will it be for the people we supposed to turn to in time of disaster are ducking from flying glass and debris. 

Unfortunately the only thing to change that mentality is a disaster of major proportions.   Some Caribbean islands "have to feel to learn". It's really like safe sex, we all need the protection..    

And believe it or not, but Trinidad is supposed to be more advanced than the rest of the Caribbean Islands.  If that is true may God help the rest of the Islands....

US government forecaster announced yesterday that they are expecting three to six major hurricanes from an above average Atlantic storm season. As many as 18 named tropical storms may deelop during the six month Atlantic Hurricane season.

Here is some advice from the local newspaper

Are you ready for the next hurricane season?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

US Seeks al Qaeda Terrorist With Trinidad Passport

Have You Seen This Man? 

According to an article published in the Trinidad Express yesterday the next in line to replace Osama bin Laden has a Trinidad Passport. Read the story below.

Al Qaeda 'Trini' may now be most wanted terrorist

By Richard Charan South Bureau

An Al Qaeda fugitive with ties to Trinidad and Guyana may rise to the top post in the global terror network whose iconic leader Osama Bin Laden was killed Sunday.

Adnan Gulshair El Shukrijumah, who is known to have lived in and visited Trinidad, was last year elevated to head Al Qaeda's external operations council—with a mission to recruit, plan and execute terrorist attacks against the United States and its western allies.

Multiple international news reported on Wednesday that El Shukrijumah, a top lieutenant is now one of the most wanted Al Qaeda. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) official website also listed him as the most wanted terrorist, with a reward of US$5 million leading to his capture.

The Miami Herald, National Public Radio, MSNBC, and United Press International reported on El Shukrijumah's rise in the ranks of the terror organisation, with one headline asking "Is this the man who will succeed Bin laden?".

El Shukrijumah is a citizen of Guyana, who lived for 15 years in the United States.Intelligence officials in the US report that El Shukrijumah, who studied computer science and chemistry in the US, came to Trinidad months before the September 11, 2001 terror attack that killed 3,000.

He is reported to have stayed on the compound of a Muslim organisation in Central Trinidad which some reports claimed was linked to a mosque in the US with ties to terrorism.

Despite a search by the FBI in Trinidad in 2003, with the assistance of local law enforcement, El Shukrijumah, 35, has not been found.
Head of the Islamic Missionaries Guild Imtiaz Mohammed said on Wednesday he and others were interviewed by the FBI who they believed knew Shukrijumah.

The FBI in 2004 set up a permanent office in Trinidad, to continue its counter terrorism operations.

El Shukrijumah is reportedly to be likely in Pakistan, where Bin Laden was killed Sunday during a secretive US military operation that has been celebrated by many. The US Justice Department last year filed multiple indictments against El Shukrijumah, alleging he was involved in a plot to set off explosives in the subways of New York and London.
The Express reported in 2003 that the FBI had learnt El Shukrijumah was in possession of a Trinidadian passport, and that local Special Branch officers were involved in the search.

It was reported that El Shukrijumah lived with his family in Trinidad in the 1980s, and during his known visit in 2003, recorded on his immigration form that he was here to visit a friend.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Does Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaida Have a Trinidad and Tobago/Caribbean Connection?

Osama Bin Laden Is Dead

The world woke up to the news that Bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan this morning.  

After ten years of the entire US law enforcement, national agencies and in fact the entire US Armed services looking for this alleged terrorist hearing of is death raise a little skepticism.  

If not for the credibility infused by the source, the US President the report would still be in question.  .  

What is questionable is that there are no pictures and although Muslim tradition require swift burial, why would the US troops in Pakistan make such a decision unless there were other motives?.   

They also came up with an original.  "Buried at sea because no other country would want to claim his remains".  How could they if they were never given the chance. 

As a people without much say in our national issues far less the international issues all we can do is ask questions about how these world events affects us. . 

Recent Caribbean Terrorist

Of course you would remember the crazy fella from Jamaica who had a bomb in his shoes.  How he was ever caught still begs many questions but according to the facts he did have explosives. His intent will always be questionable

On the wider, much "saner" front, the questions keep coming but the most important one for us in the Caribbean is; Does Al Qaida really have a connection in the Caribbean?

Here is a site that proposes such a connection. Click here.

The answer in a quick search determined that maybe they do.  Now let me be clear my position with regards to the case of the two old Muslim men from Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana who were convicted as terrorist in New York does not count as Al Qaida connections. 

IMHO I can voice the man in the street wispers that these men were railroaded into admitting their part in a plan without any substance.  They were accused of attempting to blow up the airport using gas lines from NYC.  The experts stated categorically that it would not work under any conditions.  Be that as it may, these men will die in US prisons.  

More Likely Connection
The connection that raised more questions is from a web site that identified a local mosque as being an instrumental support for an alleged suspect of Al Qaida. 

The source, a Miami Private Investigator (PI) have a video posted with the suspect delivering an automotive session.  Look at the Video Here.

These links are provided for your edification.  

Feel free to comment.

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