$$ note change causes frenzy across T&T

$$ note change causes frenzy across T&T

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – A mad rush across the coun­try yes­ter­day as cit­i­zens de­fied the ad­vice of the Cen­tral Bank Gov­er­nor Alvin Hi­laire and rushed to banks across the coun­try to change their old hun­dred dol­lar bills to the new Poly­mer hun­dred dol­lar note.

The mad fren­zy saw lines snaking around cor­ners in Port of Spain and San Fer­nan­do caus­ing both hu­man and ve­hic­u­lar traf­fic as cu­ri­ous mo­torists slowed down. The Trinidad and To­ba­go Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) con­firmed it had in­creased mo­bile and foot pa­trols in the vicin­i­ty of bank­ing lo­ca­tions for the pro­tec­tion of cit­i­zens who went to change their notes.

As Day One of the re­lease of the new poly­mer $100 bill be­gan yes­ter­day, thou­sands of ea­ger cit­i­zens crowd­ed the na­tion’s bank, stand­ing in line from as ear­ly as 7 am.

From Princes Town to Port of Spain, they clutched their hand­bags close and wait­ed. When the var­i­ous fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions opened their doors at 8 am, the chaos be­gan- with every­one rush­ing to get in first- al­most as though the new bills were be­ing hand­ed out for free.

But the en­thu­si­asm was not catch­ing for every­one as many peo­ple com­plained that they were un­able to con­duct busi­ness un­re­lat­ed to the new bill as the banks were too crowd­ed.


Rush­ton Cok­er, who vis­it­ed the Mur­ray Street, Port of Spain branch of Re­pub­lic Bank to con­duct busi­ness on be­half of the com­pa­ny he is em­ployed with, ques­tioned why peo­ple were rush­ing to get their bills changed.

“There are very long lines, I don’t know what peo­ple rush­ing for re­al­ly, they have a cer­tain date to use out the old bills,” Cok­er said.

Ger­ard Snag­gs, who vis­it­ed the branch just to see what the fuss was about, said he an­tic­i­pates a lot of prob­lems in the com­ing weeks with the change of the notes.

“I just went to macko, I see the long lines so I turned back but I asked about it. If you watch the line is filled to by the door, look at peo­ple, to change this cur­ren­cy is go­ing to be a prob­lem,” Snag­gs said.

He said he does not think the change over will be com­plet­ed by the De­cem­ber 31st dead­line.

An­oth­er cus­tomer, Melis­sa John­son-Moore, was al­so de­terred by the long lines and tried her luck at the ATM in­stead, with­draw­ing one $100 bill to see if she would get the new poly­mer note.

But she was dis­ap­point­ed al­though she vowed to re­turn again to­day (Wednes­day) to try her luck again.

“I tried but it was the same old, same old, they said they were go­ing to put it in the banks yes­ter­day and to­day the banks have mil­lions of lines, you can’t get to the counter to even make a de­posit. I went to the ATM and still got the old $100, I was hop­ing I would get to do a lil’ Whats app post, with the new hun­dred, but it didn’t work out,” she said.

San Fer­nan­do

In South Trinidad the sit­u­a­tion was the same. Even as they stood in the rain wait­ing to change their $100 bills at the First Cit­i­zens Bank in Princes Town, bank­ing clients yes­ter­day ex­pressed con­cern that the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice was not pro­vid­ing enough se­cu­ri­ty for them.

Along High Street, scores of peo­ple gath­ered in the rain and ex­pressed con­cerns about the lack of se­cu­ri­ty at the lo­ca­tion. Even though the Princes Town Po­lice sta­tion is lo­cat­ed a short dis­tance, not a sin­gle po­lice of­fi­cer was sta­tioned near the bank when Guardian Me­dia vis­it­ed around 10 am.

One cus­tomer Micheal Green said he want­ed a bet­ter se­cu­ri­ty pres­ence at all banks.

“I am very con­cerned be­cause every­one stand­ing there have no se­cu­ri­ty and every­body has a bag of mon­ey. The rain is falling and if some­body comes now, snatch my bag and run now, what will I do? No po­lice in the place.”

An­oth­er cus­tomer said she want­ed bet­ter po­lice pa­trols around the banks.”I am not afraid but I am con­cerned about the lack of se­cu­ri­ty here,” she added.

Many of the cus­tomers said they did not want to be pho­tographed in case they are tar­get­ed by crim­i­nals. Along High Street, San Fer­nan­do just af­ter 9 am, lines in­side the bank were un­usu­al­ly long.

TECU Cred­it Union Co-op­er­a­tive So­ci­ety Lim­it­ed, at South­ern Main Road, Mara­bel­la, was al­so jam-packed with cus­tomers.

Af­ter mid­day yes­ter­day, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith is­sued a state­ment say­ing po­lice mo­bile and foot pa­trols were boost­ed around the banks and oth­er fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

Po­lice pa­trols in­crease

Grif­fith said Emer­gency Re­sponse, Task Force and Di­vi­sion­al Pa­trols were tak­ing place across the nine polic­ing di­vi­sions, to pro­vide greater lev­els of safe­ty and com­fort, as peo­ple go about trans­act­ing their busi­ness at com­mer­cial banks.

Say­ing he was aware that crim­i­nal el­e­ments may want to tar­get un­sus­pect­ing per­sons in the lines at banks, and he is giv­ing an as­sur­ance that po­lice of­fi­cers are out in full force to safe­guard mem­bers of the pub­lic, as they go about trans­act­ing their busi­ness at var­i­ous com­mer­cial banks.

Grif­fith said, “The TTPS is aware that crim­i­nal el­e­ments may want to tar­get un­sus­pect­ing per­sons in the lines at banks,” and that po­lice of­fi­cers are out in full force to safe­guard mem­bers of the pub­lic, as they go about trans­act­ing their busi­ness.

In a re­lat­ed mat­ter, quick work by of­fi­cers of the Four Roads Po­lice Sta­tion, Diego Mar­tin re­sult­ed in the ar­rest of a 19-year-old man of La Re­source Road, Laven­tille, min­utes af­ter her robbed a woman who was on her way to the bank.

The vic­tim told po­lice she was walk­ing along the walkover of the Diego Mar­tin high­way around 11:15 am, when the man grabbed her bag which con­tained a quan­ti­ty of cash be­fore he fled on foot, along Cuth­bert Cir­cu­lar.

A re­port was made and of­fi­cers on pa­trol sub­se­quent­ly ap­pre­hend­ed the sus­pect a short dis­tance away.

The bag with the cash was al­so re­cov­ered from his pos­ses­sion.


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