Mr PM, People and animals suffering from fireworks

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To all those criminals engaging in breaking the law and setting off fireworks. You are disgusting and inconsiderate! To all who are affected I suggest you all write letters to the Prime Minister and ask him, ‘Why?’ Why is this explosive still being allowed to be imported into the country! What is its necessity? Why is he and his Government allowing thousands of people to get their hands freely on this item and break the law? Why is scarce foreign exchange being spent on a non-essential item?

PM, your Government keeps talking about banning apples and grapes. Your Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries spoke about not importing channa for doubles. These items are food. Yet the Government seems insistent on importing fireworks which is of no nutritional use!

PM, are you aware of the numerous ill effects that setting off fireworks can and do cause? Do you care? Why must we law-abiding citizens have to endure this trauma, stress and anxiety every year? Why must the animals, stray and owned, have to be put in danger of running away from home and getting lost or worse, knocked down? Why must these poor creatures, whose hearing is very magnified, have to be scared out of their wits, many suffer heart attacks, anxiety, and some get trapped trying to escape and get their death?

What about the elderly, especially those suffering with heart problems? Anxiety? Stress? What about the babies and little children who are extremely traumatised? You must care about them? I mean they are children and I am very sure that you care about the health and well-being of ALL children!

Mr PM, I heard you say once in a speech concerning the death of the kangaroo Joey at the Emperor Valley Zoo, which was as a result of the Independence display at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, that fireworks are part of our culture! Now as a good citizen I could not believe my ears. Culture? Since when? You must have made an error in judgment. Are you saying that lawlessness is part of our culture?

Is this why we are seeing so much crime? And are you indirectly encouraging and allowing citizens to engage in a lawless ‘culture’? Are we allowed to get a gun on a special day and shoot up the place because we find it fun, and we want to do it? Are we to start disobeying all our other laws, and say we feel like doing that on a particular day, or for a certain period of the year? You have got to be clearly ignorant of these deleterious effects that fireworks use has on both humans and animals. They are also detrimental to the environment.

Therefore, sir, I write this public open letter to you, which I will be also copying to the Commissioner of Police, and all media, because I have reached the stage now where there is really nowhere else, and no one else, that I can turn to. After almost ten years of protests, media interviews, writing letters, having meetings and discussions, with ministers, police, and even the Commissioner himself, we the members of FUS (Fireworks Use Sufferers), have been ignored, by all of the named.

FUS took a decision this year to go straight to the head. Which is why I am writing to you. You are in charge. You are the only one can answer us and give us relief. Fireworks are already selling at several points throughout the nation. They are easily available. Mind you, according to the Fireworks Act, one needs to request permission from the Commissioner to use and set off these explosive devices. None is requested or given, I am quite sure.

The police themselves are inadequate in dealing with the menace. Many are ignorant of the law and many more just don’t care. We get little help when we call the police stations to report this going on in our neighbourhoods. As a matter of fact, we are treated as if we are the criminal instead. It seems that the police find us annoying and that we should endure our suffering, because as they say, ‘It’s Old Year’s. It’s the season.’

Well with that attitude, sir, should I retaliate and take mat- ters into my own hands, and then when the police come to my door, I will then say, ‘Oh, it was just my reaction to being overly traumatised by my neighbour with her fireworks display’?

I end by wishing you, Prime Minister, and your entire family, a very Happy New Year and a safe and prosperous 2021. I already know that mine will not be a good one because I am already suffering anxiety and depression from what is to come on Old Year’s Night. And hence, it will be most welcome by all FUS members, if you can heed our voices, and immediately hold a discussion with us and all other stakeholders, including the Minister of National Security, Attorney General, and the Police Commissioner, for us to get the answers to our questions, and to a conclusion as to what is the best and most effective manner to treat with this fireworks issue. Thank you.

Nalini Dial chairperson, Fireworks Use Sufferers