Councillors lobby government to help Carli Bay fisherfolk

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One of the boats torched at Carli Bay on March 28. – Photo by Marvin Hamilton

LOCAL government representatives for the Carli Bay fishing community say they can only lobby the government to fix the fishing facility, access roads and deal with security breaches for the fishermen.

Councillor for the Carli Bay/Calcutta No 3/Mc Bean districts Allan Seepersad and chairman of the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo regional corporation Henry Awong both defended themselves from criticism from fishermen who claimed the area’s elected representatives have neglected their fishing depot and failed to improve the area’s security.

On Friday, Newsday spoke with fishermen in the area who said they were frustrated with the politics between their fishing council, local representatives and the ministries of Agriculture, National Security and Works.

Following a recent incident where two fishing boats and nets were burnt, fishermen have now resorted to protecting their assets and livelihood by hiring private security.

Last year, National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds met with the fishermen and promised to fast-track several initiatives, including setting up a coast guard/police base, installing CCTV cameras, constructing a security booth and improving the lighting.

Speaking with Newsday on Saturday, Seepersad said both MP Ravi Ratiram and himself wrote several letters to the various ministries to get help.

“We’ve lobbied and have called on the Minister of National Security for proper security down there and we have also reached out to the Minister of Public Utilities but no one has had the courtesy to come down to Carli Bay, Orange Valley and Brickfield to hear the cry of the fishermen.”

Seepersad claimed the regional corporation has written the Ministry of Works on several occasions to have the main road to the fishing depot paved.

He said he also continues to raise the fishermen’s concerns during council meetings.

Rejecting the criticisms, Seepersad said, “The Government has been doing nothing for the past years they have been in office and the ministers they have in the ministries are not functioning and performing.”

Contacted for comment, Awong said he was “taken aback a bit” by the criticism.

Awong told Newsday Seepersad, Ratiram and other elected representatives from the corporation met often with fishermen.

“They are always championing their causes as it relates to crime in the area.”

He said the dilapidated road which leads to the fishing depot fell under the Works Ministry, Awong said the corporation has been doing as much as it can to patch some of the holes.

Awong said the corporation wants to take responsibility for the fishing depot which falls under the Agriculture Ministry.

“I hear the cry of the fishermen and we are always sympathetic towards their cries. I can say they need better facilities and I know they need a jetty because I’ve heard that from them on many occasions.”

Newsday called and sent messages to Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein and Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds but got no response.

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