SEA LOTS residents yesterday admitted their decision to block the Beetham Highway, in Port of Spain, which left thousands of people in gridlock traffic heading into the city, was their only means to plead for a fair investigation and a walkover in the aftermath of Sunday triple fatality.
Their action prompted National Security Minister Jack Warner, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Deputy Commissioner Mervyn Richardson to visit them yesterday in an attempt to dissuade them from protesting and promising no cover-up in the investigation against an off-duty police officer accused of killing three people.
"I have come here today to share your pain and to make sure that what happened here is given the attention and investigation it deserves. Everything shall be done to investigate this matter as fully as possible and quickly as possible," said Warner.
Warner also promised that the government will take care of the funeral expenses and expenses for the wake.
Warner said nothing they can do will bring back the lives lost on Sunday but, "I have spoken to the Minister of Works and Infrastructure and he has assured me that his technical officers shall look into the possibility of putting that walk-over that you have asked for".
For those that survived the accident, Warner assured that they will be given the best health-care possible and that if specialists needed to be flown in, they will.
"We cannot make the situation worse," said Warner.
"We have to investigate it and to make sure that the investigation is above board and you have asked for the walk-over and I'm quite sure this walk-over is something that should have been put there a long time ago, but why it wasn't put in place I don't know but the fact is it has to be put quickly," said Warner.
Williams, however, received a lot of flack for the actions of his officers on Sunday. They, however, praised the presence of Richardson who they said showed much restraint in dealing with the irate residents yesterday morning.
"Why they could not send he on Sunday," shouted a woman.
Williams spoke slowly and deliberately as he told resident that there will be no cover-up.
"We already know what we are supposed to do. The officer has been breath tested and blood samples taken from him so whatever comes out of that we will address it," he said.
He added, "Sea Lots people saying that they are not the type to protest and block the highway and really and truly we don't want that to be a pattern with Sea Lots."
The residents, gathered at Production Avenue, off the Beetham Highway, vented their frustration and anger at Warner and Williams saying the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on Sunday fuelled even more anger. They said if they do not protest the authorities will never build a walkover in the area.
They were in high praise of Richardson who they say empthasied with them.
Richardson who co-ordinated the police's response to yesterday's protest, said that despite the presence of police officers in Sea Lots early yesterday morning, in anticipation of residents blocking the highway, the protesters were well organised and within seconds they had placed debris which they then set alight leading to the almost nationwide traffic jams.
"It was almost a running battle," said Richardson who appeared weary yesterday afternoon.
On Sunday, Hady Paul, 28, and her daughters, Akasha Paul, eight, and Shakira Paul, seven, were killed instantly when a car mounted the pavement and collided with them. They were returning home from the Central Market.
Three other people were injured; Abbigail Assing remained in stable condition at the Port of Spain General Hospital's ward 22 while, Amanda Lalla remained at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital with both arms broken, both her legs broken along with a fracture to her skull. She underwent an operation and had received blood, according to her husband, Lenville Taylor, who spoke to the Express yesterday.
The sixth victim, identified only as Ryan alias, "Dhal", also remained at the hospital's ICU in critical condition.
Police said the runaway car was driven by an off-duty officer assigned to Transport and Telecom Branch of the service.