JSC TO INVESTIGATE IF AIRPORT CAMERAS DELIBERATELY BLOCKED
The Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security says it will be investigating claims of tampering with security cameras at Piarco International Airport.
Yesterday, members of the committee were taken on a day-long tour of the Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation (Plipdeco), as well as Piarco International Airport, to view the security arrangements in place and identify weaknesses and shortcomings to be addressed.
Committee chairman Fitzgerald Hinds expressed concern when told by officials of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) that there were areas of the airport where the authority had no access to security footage from CCTV (closed-circuit television) cameras.
Questioned on the matter, AATT general manager Hayden Newton admitted there were “blind spots” in the airport's security.
An airport security official further claimed CCTV cameras have, in the past, been deliberately blocked with tape to prevent monitoring of certain areas.
Comptroller of Customs and Excise Glenn Singh reacted with shock and denied knowledge of any such incidents.
However, Hinds said the committee would be investigating the claims.
“That is of great concern to me,” Hinds told reporters.
“It is just unthinkable that the AATT, their security, which has the responsibility for security of the airport, run into blind spots for whatever reason. It is a matter that we will pursue with rigour and vigour.”
Hinds said at a time when illegal guns are coming into the country and citizens being killed daily, there was no room for loopholes in the security at the nation's ports of entry.
Port scanners put to use soon
Earlier, Singh said four mobile scanners that were obtained in 2014 would be put to use at the ports soon.
Singh said the hold-up in implementing the scanners was due to having no plans in place for maintenance of the units once they became operational.
He said however a contract has been awarded to the manufacturer of the units, Ledos Inc, to upkeep the units and perform routine maintenance.
Singh told the Express the agreement is in the “final stages”, though he could not provide information on the amount of the contract.
He said it is expected the units would be in use before the end of September, with two to be housed at the port of Port of Spain and two at the port of Point Lisas.
A team from Ledos Inc is expected to arrive in T&T within two weeks to train local port officials on proper usage of the scanners, as well as to assess the units to ensure they are functioning properly after being in storage for so long.
The units will allow port officials to scan steel containers and check for illegal or unauthorised items as committee chairman Fitzgerald Hinds noted illegal guns and drugs sometimes pass through the ports unchecked.
Singh told the Express while the four units would be useful, two at each port would still be insufficient.
“I have not seen the capacity of it but when the trainers come, we will get a better idea,” he said.