Category Archives: Redwall News

News about Trinidad and Tobago.

Grants and Trinidad and Tobago’s IT failures

Today, we’re talking about two things: the government of Trinidad and Tobago’s use of technology; and Grants. Not Hugh Grant or General Grant. I mean relief grants, particularly the salary relief grant and the grant promised to hotels and guesthouses in Tobago.

I should warn you that when I wrote this episode of #RedWallNews I did so with a growing bitterness in my heart. Because when it comes to IT and software systems that work well, the government keeps dropping the ball. I’m a programmer. I know how fast and easy it is for one programmer or a team of skilled programmers to build software systems that work, evolve as needed and, like Janelle Penny Commissiong, get better with age.

I should also remind you that I have no political affiliations. I have never voted. I support a unified Trinidad and Tobago, which means that I support neither PNM nor UNC.

Let’s get started.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the government is like that friend you lend money to but when it’s time to pay back you could never find them. Yeah, Nick, I’m talking about you. Where’s my hundred dollars that you borrowed on Friday, 27th July 1990? You said you were going Port of Spain; and I never saw you after that.

In early August, the prime minister said, the last lockdown cost billions. How much billions are we talking about, exactly? 5, 10, 50?

I always assume the best in people so I’m pretty certain the government is spending these billions sensibly. In other words, the money is going into the right pockets, the pockets of the people who need the money the most. What’s baffling is that in the newspapers and on social media there are people complaining about not receiving grants. (Who knows; maybe they’re mischievous UNC trolls.)

It doesn’t end there. In Tobago, we have the Business Chamber calling on the incoming government to urgently begin disbursing the $50 million grant promised to hoteliers and guesthouse operators months ago, in March.

March. That is a long time ago. Consider staff, suppliers, farmers, fishermen, the people who need the money the most.

Mr Prime Minister, Sir, as I write this do you know what just crossed my mind? That time Sandals pulled out of Tobago. A blessing or a curse?

Based on what we’re reading in the news why does it appear that money is taking so long to get into the hands of the people who really need it?

Is it because in Trinidad and Tobago, the state, it seems, has a knack for building really stupid Information Systems? I mean, who implements a system to accept requests for salary grants via email? Sorry, how could I forget all about you NIB. At what point did you all realise that one email address to serve all of Trinidad and Tobago was a terrible idea? I imagine your IT department called a meeting. Young programmers, ancient bosses, around a wooden conference table that somehow makes everyone feel more important than they are. The young programmer’s cautiously saying:

“Boss, this system is madman thing, we have thousands of requests in one email address. I have a suggestion.”

“What’s that?”

“The country has good programmers. Let us build a dedicated system to effectively manage the process. The system could even help decrease fraudulent claims. Improve transparency etc.”

The boss smiles and says:

“That, young woman, is a terrible idea. What we really need to do is set up four email addresses. One for north, south, east and west Trinidad. Tobago’s small so they’ll get one email address.”

Another big smile and the boss says:

“That way we will have less emails in every email address.”

Listen, whether or not NIB has an “IT system” that the public doesn’t know about, it should be obvious by now that the thing ain’t wo’king.

When it comes to sound IT systems, the Ministry of Education is another failure. For months (maybe years) they’ve been working on developing a school transport app to improve the payment process to maxi taxi concessionaires.  There’s talk about RFID tags and all that jazz, tracking students’ movement in and out of vehicles. Where are the results? Can you imagine how relieved the programmers at the Ministry of Education are that schools are closed. I could hear them saying, “Yeah, boy we getaway.”

It may not be so, but it seems that more often than not the government (PNM and UNC) fails miserably when it comes to implementing sensible software solutions. And I imagine these are costly failures. Failures that cost taxpayers millions, if not billions.

So, forgive me for not being excited when the PNM announced a Ministry of Technologies and Records to bring about modernisation in record- keeping. This should have happened years ago, but, I’m practicing optimism, so I look forward to it. Hopefully by 2025 we’ll be voting online.

Oh. A quick reminder that cyber threats are against the law. The police has a cybercrime unit, monitoring social media. And it is apparently effective:

I’ll end with a quote attributed to Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, a man I regard as a man of few words:

“The good thing about social media is sometimes people like to talk too much and when they talk too much it gives us enough information in our law enforcement bank. We’re seeing a number of different comments being made. People are very emotional, some exuberance, some frustrated and because of that they have started making very irresponsible, reckless comments that can cause crime to be committed or try to incite violence and that is where the police will get involved.”

#RedWallNews It better than blues.

The Redwall Report: Friday, 23 September, 2022

Watson Duke and Farley Augustine 

Augustine to sue Duke for defamation

Attorney Kiel Taklalsingh called on Duke to issue a full and unequivocal retraction of the statements, in writing, 

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police blast Carenage man

Beaten, slashed with a broken razor blade and threatened with death by an inmate, a prison officer is to receive damages in the sum of $70,000 from the State for negligence.

Trinidad Express Newspapers
Emiro Baynes

Shot dead in Tobago

AN EMPLOYEE of T&T Ferry Services was shot and killed by gunmen while driving his car along Belmont Farm Road, Mason Hall,

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday
Sarah Vashti Mohammed

Was my wife kidnapped?

A Gasparillo husband and father of four is seeking the public’s help in locating his 39-year-old wife.

Trinidad Express Newspapers

The Redwall Report: Thursday, 22 September, 2022

Homeless man puts pipe on woman in Port of Spain

A young woman employed with Rhand Credit Union was attacked and beaten yesterday by a homeless man in Port-of-Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

Businessman Hugh Leong Poi has been charged with conspiring to defraud the State of $1.4 million in motor vehicle taxes from the purchase of a $2.3 million Mercedes-Benz AMG G63.

Trinidad Express Newspapers

Launch of Carnival 2023 postponed

The National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago (NCC) today announced that the launch, originally carded for September 24 (Republic Day),  is now set to take place on November 5 at 4 pm.

Loop TT

Amazon Warriors close out thrilling win

Guyana Amazon Warriors got off to a winning start on their home leg of the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with a thrilling victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs


The Redwall Report: Wednesday, 21 September, 2022

Rachel Bhagwandeen

Police release owner of killer Vistabella dog

“Bhagwandeen and her nine-year-old brother Jaylon were watching TV on August 25 when the dog, belonging to one of their relatives, entered the room.”

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Brace for storm

PEOPLE should brace for heavy showers and thunderstorms due to hit Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday evening/Thursday morning as part of a tropical wave moving in from the Atlantic Ocean

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

How to file for divorce in Trinidad and Tobago

Let’s talk about divorce in Trinidad and Tobago.

Before we begin a couple things:

  • I am not a lawyer;
  • This is not legal advise.

Divorce is hard. On everyone. You, your family and your kids. It’s hard on your future ex and your outside thing

In 2013, 8,117 couples said “I do” in Trinidad and Tobago. That same year 2,465 couples said “screw you!” and formalised their divorce.

Using those figures one in every three marriages in Trinidad and Tobago end in divorce.

In Trinidad, there is one ground for divorce. That the marriage has irretrievably broken down, meaning that there is no room for reconciliation. Your marriage, like the roads in La Brea, cannot be fixed.

A divorce can be contested. Or uncontested.

A divorce is granted in two stages.

The court first issues a decree nisi, which is a document that says the court doesn’t see why you can’t divorce. At a later stage, the court grants a decree absolute, which means you’re free to remarry.

In the time between the decree nisi and the decree absolute, any party who objects to the divorce can come forward with those objections. At your wedding no one objected. Hopefully no one objects to your divorce.

Between 1986 and 2004 the number of divorces in Trinidad and Tobago fluctuated between 1074 and 1852.

In 2005, the figure spiked to 2785.

In 2010, 2,000 divorces were granted.

Opening the 2017/2018 law term chief justice archie announced 2,878 petitions were filed. The year before, the courts issued 2110 decree nisi. 94% of people getting divorced got their nisi within a year. Remember the nisi (which rhymes with pissy) is the first milestone in getting divorced. It’s followed by the decree absolute.

According to the judiciary’s website, you could get a divorce in 4 months. Assuming of course everything runs smoothly.

Do you know that means? That means that in Trinidad you could get a divorce faster than you could get your passport.

If you go online and search for “divorce in Trinidad”, you’ll notice a couple things, people are searching for information:

  1. About the divorce process
  2. About the rights of women
  3. About alimony or “all your money”

About unreasonable behavior. What exactly is unreasonable behavior?

You’ll also notice something that should embarrass the courts. The details on their website aren’t straightforward. Why is it so hard for organisations to document and communicate how processes work? Whether it’s applying for your passport, driver’s license or a divorce?

On the court’s website you have to download a 6mb PDF document to find out how the process works. First of all, why do I have to download a file? You know how much work that is? And why is the file 6mb? The judiciary’s website also includes other resources you will need if you’re representing yourself. These files, which you will have to edit, are available as PDF documents which is stupid because people who are getting divorced don’t have PDF editors. They have Microsoft word or notepad.

You know what else is embarrassing? If you search online for divorce in Trinidad The US embassy’s website has clearer instructions.

Here’s something simple that the judiciary can do that will make everyone’s life a whole lot easier in the long run. Create fillable pdf forms. So people can download the forms. Fill them out on their computer, print them and sign them.

In Trinidad, divorcing someone is very easy especially IF there are no disagreements. when it comes to money, assets and the kids. AND no outside man or woman is involved.

One spouse must request a divorce. That spouse is known as the petitioner. The other spouse, in legal jargon is called the respondent. In the petitioner’s circles, the respondent is known as the bitch or the jackass.

In Trinidad and Tobago, there’s one ground for divorce. That your marriage has broken down irretrievably, meaning that like cocaine and marijuana in evidence rooms across Trinidad, it cannot be retrieved

There are five ways of proving a marriage is irretrievable.

  1. the jackass you want to divorce has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent;
  2. the bitch you want to divorce has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent;
  3. the jackass deserted me;
  4. We’ve been living apart for more than two years with agreement;
  5. We’ve been living apart for more than five years without agreement (I have no idea where he lives. I can’t even find the jackass on Facebook.)

To apply for a divorce you do not need a lawyer, but, apparently, it is your best interest that you have one.

Remember, if you decide to represent yourself you can find resources on the judiciary’s website. Hopefully by the time you’re getting divorced the judiciary would have created fillable forms making divorce a whole lot easier.

Step 1

To start proceedings, the average Lawyer in Trinidad and Tobago charges TT$5000.
Of course the price increases depending on the case’s complexity: assets, kids, alimony, which makes you wonder if it’s in your best interest or your lawyer’s best interest that you have a lawyer.

Your lawyer will prepare the necessary documents and speak for you in court.

If you cannot afford a lawyer you can apply for legal aid through the Legal Aid Advisory Board. On the condition that you make less than TT $7,000 a year? But if you make less than 7,000 and you’re thinking about getting a divorce, please think twice. Because, bro, she didn’t marry you for the money.

The Hugh Wooding Law School also has a legal aid clinic, which, like Mt Hope’s Dental school, gives students the chance to practice on you for a small fee.

There aren’t any restrictions for filing for divorce. Either you or your spouse have lived in Trinidad and Tobago for at least one year, which, truth be told, may have contributed to your divorce. If you’re having problems Leave, “Get Out”. Those are Two excellent movies. Watch them together then leave.

So, how do you apply for a divorce in Trinidad and Tobago?

Usually, you must be married for at least one year. Otherwise it just looks bad, especially if you had an expensive wedding. But if you can show that you’ve suffered extreme hardship you can apply for permission on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, which can include but isn’t limited to

  1. Domestic abuse
  2. Verbal abuse, shouting or belittling
  3. Drunkenness
  4. Excessive/lack of sex

So if he’s living in the rumshop more than he’s living inside, you can apply for a divorce. And Behaviour isn’t confined to the Petitioner; it is what affects the marriage so Respondent’s behaviour to other family members such as your mother in law.

One, you need to file a petition at the Family Court asking the court to end your marriage. This document outlines how you wish to prove the irretrievable breakdown.

Along with the petition you must file supporting documents such as

  1. A copy of your marriage certificate;
  2. Details about other cases in any court about your marriage, the children or matrimonial property.
  3. if you have kids under the age of 16 or children who are still attending school you must prepare a document called a Statement of Arrangements for the children (money for school, money for books, money for mommy);

It costs $50 to file a petition. Each supporting document costs $5.

You also have to pay a service fee, which varies based on where your spouse lives and how far the official who will ultimately serve the petition on your spouse has to travel, which I find amusing. Can you imagine if the official and your spouse live on opposite ends of the island? Or the official lives in Trinidad and your spouse is from Tobago?

If you live in “South” or Tobago, you can file your petition at the family court in Port of Spain because South, like Tobago, has no good night-clubs and no family court.

South people and Tobagonians can also file at sub-registries in South Trinidad or Tobago. The Supreme Court on Harris Promenade. And the Supreme Court in Scarborough, Tobago.

If your petition claims that your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with him or her, you will have to name the horner man or the horner woman. The person you name is also served. So if you named Little Jack Horner, Little Jack Horner is going to get a copy of the petition and supporting documents. Can you imagine being in the same room with that person. Assuming the man cheated, The wife is probably disgusted. The husband is probably thinking about a threesome.

The petitioner must present hard proof.

  1. Admission of Respondent
  2. Existence of a child
  3. Caught in the act
  4. Inference – from circumstances
  5. Evidence (pictures, videos, phone records)

Please note the following. petitions that try to prove that a marriage has broken down irretrievably because of adultery are usually contested. This is a long dirty road.

Oh. When you’re going to file your petition, remember to walk with cash.
It’s 2019. Organisations like Licensing Office and Family Court only accept cash.
Trinidad is a real place.

Step 2

Once you file your petition, you’ll get a date of hearing, approximately 8 weeks from the date of filing. The respondent must be served personally. He or she has 8 days to defend the petition. The respondent may want to make changes with respect to matrimonial property or the kids. If the jackass decides to contest the petition he/she has an additional 20 days to file an answer. Along with the petition, the respondent receives two forms:

  1. an acknowledgement of service form, which he/she must be completed and filed within 8 days.
  2. A notice of proceedings; instructions and details about the matter.

Let’s jump to the first date of hearing.

If your spouse does not contest the divorce, you, the petitioner, present your evidence. The judge will state if he or she is convinced the marriage has broken down irretrievably.He issues a decree nisi, which is… do you remember?

A decree nisi is not the end of your marriage!!!

A decree nisi is not the end of your marriage.
You still have to wait at least six weeks.

Let’s talk about settlement. Who gets the house, the car, the kids? It isn’t a winner takes all scenario. The court isn’t there to rule in favor of the woman. The court prefers if a couple can work out these details on their own. They may recommend mediation.

In dividing property, the court’s aim is to place the par­ties as close as pos­si­ble to the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion they would have been in if the mar­riage had not bro­ken down. The court con­sid­ers the in­come, the abil­i­ty to earn, prop­er­ty and oth­er fi­nan­cial re­sources which each par­ty has or is like­ly to have in the near fu­ture, their age and how long they were mar­ried.

Custody, care and control is not automatically granted to the mother. The Court does look at which parent may be better placed to provide for the child. The Court prefers joint custody with care and control going to the parent with whom the child will reside. However if one party exhibits unreasonable behavior the courts can deny access to that parent.

Once a judge is satisified with the arrangements, you will receive your final document, the Decree Absolute. Game over. Congrats. You did it.

If however your spouse contests the divorce, and you all can’t see eye to eye on anything… Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Redwall News! It better than blues!