Saturday, January 20, 2018

Moruga fishermen upset over new facility

Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj opened a spanking new fish landing site at La Ruffin, Moruga yesterday.

But fishermen in the rural community were not impressed by the multi-million-dollar facility.

Moruga/Tableland MP Clifton De Coteau and Estate Management and Business Development Co Ltd (EMBD) official Henckle Lall attended the function.

La Ruffin Fishing Association president Peter Glodon said the facility was not what they expected.

“We got some kind of satisfaction when we were told this facility was being constructed, but what we received here today is nothing what we had in mind,” he said.

Glodon said the facility was inadequate and poorly constructed. He said there were only 16 cubicles to store 100-plus fishing vessels.

“They built a conference room outfitted with air-condition, but no tables and chairs. The construction is faulty, the doors not closing and the toilets leaking. We have plenty problems with this facility.”

Glodon said the fishermen were promised a $200 million port in Moruga prior to the 2010 general election.

“They said we will get a state-of-the-art facility here. We thought the PNM took so long to hear our cries, maybe (People’s Partnership) will listen. So we gave them our support, now as election is approaching again they throw this at us.”

Glodon said the fishing port in Moruga was promised by the PNM in 1956.

He appealed to the Government to share the country’s resources equitably.

“We are seeing a $3.4 billion UWI campus going up in Debe. We seeing a billion-dollar aquatic centre in Couva. Is it that only urban and suburban communities benefit from the country’s wealth? The rural communities need some kind of development too,” he said.

Glodon said for too long fishermen have been turning to corporate citizens for assistance.

He called on fishermen to unite and stand up for what is right.

Glodon said the fishermen would utilise the facility and ensure that it is maintained properly.

As he commissioned the facility, Maharaj said the La Ruffin fishing community was neglected by the previous administration.

“There are approximately 60 vessels with approximately 180 fishermen operating from this site, contributing invaluably to our nation’s food security. And yet you were treated as second-class citizens and had to endure immense suffering since fishing for many of you is your sole source of income.”

Maharaj said his Ministry had upgraded 17 fishing facilities from 2012 to 2013.

He said consultations were held with fisherfolk from La Ruffin and Gran Chemin to determine what was required to develop the industry.

“Resulting from these consultations, a decision was made to provide the fisherfolk of La Ruffin with important basic amenities.”

He said the primary landing facility at Gran Chemin would have a larger, fully-equipped fishing port.

Maharaj explained that the project was delayed because of challenges in seeking regulatory approvals from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), Town and Country Planning and the regional corporation.

The facility at La Ruffin includes electricity, water and water storage, security infrastructure including fencing and lighting, adequate drainage, toilet and bath facilities, engine locker rooms, a meeting room for the association, and net-mending facilities.

Maharaj said the facility will result in a greater influx of vendors and vessels, adding more life to the fishing community while meeting international sanitary and environmental standards.