Fireworks coalition says gov’t not doing enough to stop indiscriminate use of fireworks

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Fireworks coalition says gov’t not doing enough to stop indiscriminate use of fireworks

With Christmas The Fireworks Action Coalition of Trinidad and Tobago is lamenting that for yet another year nothing has come to pass when it comes to the use of fireworks. It fears that citizens will be left hurt and scared as fireworks explode during this Christmas season and on Old Year’s Night 2023.

In a statement yesterday, FACTT said this would occur despite “significant representation favouring legislation to protect citizens from the irresponsible use of fireworks, recommendations from a Joint Select Committee of Parliament and the Attorney General’s promise to act in the shortest feasible time.”

It said while it understood that a revised draft Bill was before the Cabinet, there was little in place to stop the indiscriminate use of fireworks.

FACTT explained in its statement that it comprised 15 private-sector organisations representing corporate and private citizens which advocated for the responsible use of fireworks. It said for the last several years it had been at the forefront of the fight to quell the irresponsible use of fireworks.

FACTT said, “The harm caused to not only our infirm, elderly and infants but also our animals including farm animals, wildlife and farmers livelihoods is insurmountable.”

It said its position had been presented to the Attorney General through in-person consultation and otherwise included:

(i) that fireworks be prohibited from use by the general population.

(ii) that approved days be legislated permitting the use of fireworks—Independence Day 8 pm-9pm and midnight 31st December to 12.30 am 1st January.

(iii) that approved locations be identified for disbursing fireworks by trained professionals only and said locations to be not within two miles of hospitals, homes for the elderly, animal shelters or animal sanctuaries (including the Zoo), forest reserves, national parks, farms and residential areas or other sensitive areas.

FACTT said the public consultation hosted by the Office of the Attorney General in August 2022 brought a significant response from both corporate and private citizens, including the Emperor Valley Zoo, TTPS, T&TEC and TTARP, of which 92 per cent of respondents felt additional regulation was required to protect citizens from fireworks and most agreed with the recommendations.

However, it lamented nothing had been done to protect the citizens, animals and livelihoods.

It said despite these advancements, “nothing has come to pass for yet another year.”

FACTT said, “Though we understand that a revised draft Bill is before the Cabinet we can expect more of the same —fear, scare and hurt—during this Christmas season and on Old Years night 2023 and more promises come January 2024.”

It added, “Let it be clearly understood that any damage, death or destruction as a result of fireworks is on the Government for having failed to act to legislate safe and responsible use of fireworks for the last 20 years. Will we awake one morning after a night of terror brought on by fireworks to the Prime Minister’s astounding discovery that enough hurt has been cast upon the population and something must be done? Because it seems that until then nothing will be done.”

According to the Summary Offences Act Chapter 11:02, Section 99, “Any person who throws, casts, sets fire to, or lets off any fireworks within any town is liable to a fine of one thousand dollars.”

With regard to the sale of fireworks, the Explosives Act Chapter 16:02 Section 10 (1) clearly states that—“No person other than a wholesale or retail dealer shall sell gunpowder, or offer or expose the same for sale. Section 10 (2) states- Any person who contravenes the provisions of this section is liable to a fine of two thousand dollars.”