He also expressed satisfaction that the Police Service had ordered an investigation into the action undertaken by police officers countrywide. Alfonso said he was already in office by 7 am when he was told of the massive traffic congestion which caused children to be late for school, people to miss international flights and many workers to return home.
“What were they looking for? Was it arms and ammunition? I am not sure what they were looking for. I think the police could answer that,” he said adding “Most of us were not prepared.”
Alfonso said he spoke on the telephone with Acting Commissioner of Police Ann-Marie Alleyne-Daly about the issue before she visited his office to brief him in person on the roadblocks and the actions the Police Executive were taking.
Asked if he knew the roadblocks which virtually shut down the country for most of yesterday were linked to ongoing salary negotiations, Alfonso said, “I cannot say it is because they want to put pressure on Government to get their way.”
On whether he will intervene with Finance Minister Larry Howai on the officers’ behalf, Alfonso said, “That is not my purview.” Asked if he was going to meet with the Police Social Welfare Association (PSWA) as indicated in a press release issued by the Corporate Communications Department of his ministry, Alfonso said he does not know of any planned meeting with them. Asked about the outcome of a reported meeting he was meant to have with the National Security Council, again as indicated by the Corporate Communications Department, Alfonso said there was no meeting of the National Security Council.
“I heard that through the grapevine. No one has contacted me.
“No one has sent me anything today to say anything about a meeting. And I am a member of the council.”
Asked about reports in the electronic media that he told police officers to “stand down” and end the roadblocks, Alfonso said, “I would have overstepped my bounds. I did not overstep my bounds. I did not give them orders to stand down.
“I can’t do that. I can’t tell police to stand down on patrols. I wouldn’t venture to do that.” The Acting Commissioner of Police would have done that, he said.
“There is no way I can tell the Police Commissioner or any other commander of any law enforcement agency what to do and how to do it,” Alfonso said.
A release from the Communications Ministry, issued last night, stated, “the Government expresses its grave concern for the national traffic gridlock, which caused immense inconvenience and frustration to the travelling public today. The government wishes to firmly state it is not a situation which will be condoned and accountability for what occurred must be identified. In this regard, the Ministry of National Security has called on the Acting Commissioner of Police to launch an immediate investigation into how the simultaneous series of police activities across the country could have occurred to create the virtual shutdown of the nation’s roadways.
Assurances have been given by the Acting Commissioner of Police that such an investigation will be conducted.
The Acting Commissioner of Police has provided further assurances that there would be no repeat of the actions which caused such disruption today.