Trinidad, No Tell People, Seize Generators : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

12/11/99 -- 11:57 AM

In Trinidad, good Y2K preparations haven't calmed fears

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) - In resource-rich Trinidad and Tobago, which experts say is well-prepared for the millennium bug, the biggest Y2K fear seems to be fear itself.

Officials are girding for a possible wave of robberies should jittery citizens ignore assurances that banks are Y2K-compliant and withdraw large sums of cash.

Krishendath Kuarsingh, coordinator of the national Y2K task force, said a special team will be on call around the clock in the hours after the new year begins. Police and the army will be on standby. Among their tasks: Monitoring large withdrawals. [ disallowing ]

``We have appealed to the citizens at large: 'The criminal elements in society will be monitoring your movements. They will follow you and take your money from you. You will be committing yourself to unnecessary dangers,''' Kuarsingh said.

The campaign has had decidedly mixed results.

``They can talk their talk. All I know is that I'm taking my money out of the bank on December 31st,'' said Ruthven Balkisoon, 26.

Trinidad and Tobago has a national contingency plan to deal with possible Y2K-related glitches like water or electrical system collapses. But to avoid feeding people's fears, parts of the plan are not being widely publicized.

``The public has not been advised of everything because that might worry them more,'' said Dev Maharaj, information technology manager at the Water and Sewer Management Authority.

``People's perceptions and how they are going to react is our biggest concern,'' said Myrna Thompson, the National Y2K Task Force director.

``If there is an incident ... with all the Y2K hype, we don't want people to panic.'' [ so they ain't gonna find out nuttin ]

Fixing all the bugs is a costly process. The Britain-based consulting group International Monitoring put Trinidad in its ``better-prepared'' group, along with Caribbean countries including Barbados and the Bahamas. The top category includes the United States and 13 other countries.

Officials insist the country is compliant - but are preparing for the worst nonetheless.

``We have already identified plants and wells that could be run by generators,'' Maharaj said. ``And there is no doubt as to who gets any generators that may be needed - we do.'' [ typical govt attitude ]

Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation warned that systems at Trinidad's two international airports are not yet fully compliant. But Civil Aviation Director Errol Ashby said that was based on outdated information. [ if it is bad news it is always "outdated ]

Thompson said the energy sector is also Y2K compliant - key in a country that ranks eighth in the world in exports of liquified natural gas. Atlantic LNG, the largest producer of liquified natural gas in the Western hemisphere, has had a 12-person team working for 18 months to clean up its bugs.

The banking industry, meanwhile, insists there's nothing to fear. But Hamish Smith, a general manager at Royal Bank, admitted banks have ``taken extra precautions to have cash. ... It's always difficult to judge the feel of the public.''

-- no gas (don't@tell.public), December 11, 1999


Keep them in the dark.

-- in the dark (by dark@through dark.for dark), December 11, 1999.

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