GUNMEN have started to attack contractors hired to do work for the State, Works Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan said yesterday.
Rambachan told of two separate incidents in the Diego Martin area where gunmen targeted contractors.
In one instance, gunmen went as far as abducting workmen from a jobsite and this forced the contractor to pack up shop and flee the area in fear.
Rambachan made the statement as he delivered the feature address at the opening ceremony of the Diego Martin lay-by project and La Puerta roadworks, which was held next to the NP gas station at Four Roads, Diego Martin.
Earlier this year, Harry Persad and Sons Ltd were contracted to construct “curb walls and slipper drains” along River Estate Circular, Diego Martin.
“When work was going on in the River Estate Circular Road area the work was stopped by gunmen. That is what contractors are facing in some of these areas. Gunmen came and stopped the work there in Diego Martin,” Rambachan said.
“Unfortunately, the contractor’s workers were threatened and I believe some of them were actually taken away from the job by the gunmen and the contractor quit and did not come back to do the job, and I cannot give the contractor any wrong for that because the safety of his employees and himself and his equipment is foremost.”
Rambachan condemned the attack on the contractor.
The work, which was forced to stop for close to a month, was scheduled to resume last Saturday under a new contractor.
Rambachan commended Lisa Maraj, the councillor for Bagatelle/Blue Basin, for going “beyond the call of duty” by facing off with the gunmen in an attempt to placate the situation.
He said a similar attack also took place in La Puerta.
“That (gunmen attacking a contractor) also happened on the La Puerta job and it was only the prevention of one particular resident in that area that that matter was also pacified,” Rambachan said.
“What I am saying is that we cannot continue as a society to have such lawlessness where people are prepared to work hard for the benefit of the society, where people are prepared to work hard to contribute so that others can enjoy a better quality of life, and you have people who do not want to work hard but want to come with the barrel of a gun in order to gain income and make gains on those who are working hard.
“It is incumbent that we do something to stop this kind of behaviour and protect the decent citizens of this country who are willing to work hard and contribute.”
Rambachan said National Security Minister Emmanuel George was aware of the situation.
George intends to “initiate procedures that will protect our contractors who have to do work in this country”.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, Member of Parliament for Diego Martin West who was present at yesterday’s ceremony, said he was “very concerned” by the situation.
“Persons are not to be allowed to use their lawbreaking attributes to prevent the State from conducting lawful business on behalf of all the people of the district,” he said.
Rowley slammed the use of “strong arm” tactics by gunmen against contractors.