CDA mum on new hiking ban


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News

Rachael Espinet

18 Hrs Ago

A sign placed by the CDA at the start of the trail to the Mt St Catherine peak in Chaguaramas warns that the area has now become restrictied. – ROGER JACOB

NO one from the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) was able to answer when Newsday asked why members of the public can no longer hike up the Mt St Catherine.

At 539 metres, Mt St Catherine is the tallest peak in Chaguaramas.

Hikers usually take the more challenging trail, as it is surrounded by trees and is steep when one nears the top. There are two routes hikers usually take: a long, winding paved road or the trek through the trees.

At the peak is a radar antenna that looks like a globe on a stand. Near the top is a Coast Guard base.

A sign was recently put up at the foot of the hill that says: “Restricted area, no public access to road, official vehicles only. No exercising, no jogging, no cycling, by order of the CDA.”

There is a swinging barrier at the bottom of the Mt St Catherine Road.

An officer from the CDA police told Newsday the hiking trail is now off-limits because there are a military base and a shooting range at Mt St Catherine, and the tracking station, a shorter, popular hiking trail, on the other side of Tucker Valley, is still open.

Newsday called the CDA seven times on October 15 and went to its office to get information. None was provided.

Newsday also contacted the assistant to general manager Karen Clark-Rowley and was told the GM was in a meeting and information was being prepared. None was forthcoming.

On October 26, Newsday called four times, was unable to get on to the communications officer by phone and visited the CDA’s office again, only to be told by the communications officer that she was not authorised to speak to the media, and the authorised person was in a meeting.

Newsday spoke to Clark-Rowley on October 21 and e-mailed her questions about the new restrictions. On October 22, in a follow-up call, Newsday was told the answers were not available and Newsday would receive them the following day.

On October 23, Newsday called the GM’s mobile twice but calls went unanswered. Up till press time, no email from the CDA was sent.

Newsday contacted National Security Minister Stuart Young, who said: “I am not aware of the shooting range that you are referring to. If it is in Chaguaramas, it would be under the CDA.

“Shooting ranges do not require the Minister of National Security’s approval. I suspect it may require the TTPS’ approval.” Newsday contacted ASP Richard Smith, second in command in the police Western Division, who said there is a private shooting range there which is owned by a police Special Reserve officer.

Newsday tried to contact MP for the area, Dr Keith Rowley of Diego Martin West, and the line minister for the CDA, Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis. Calls to their phones went unanswered.

Story appeared first at newsday.co.tt

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