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Cedros residents stage fiery protests (CNC3 video included)
Hundreds of commuters and drivers were left stranded as Cedros residents defied the police and set up fiery blockades in the south-western peninsula to highlight deplorable roads, extensive flooding, high unemployment, inadequate health facilities and poor representation. The protests started around 3 am, as huge trees were toppled and heaps of tyres, bamboo and garbage were set ablaze at Chatham Junction, Cedros Main Road, Point Coco Road, Boodram Trace and Syfoo Trace, Granville.
The residents called for the removal of Cedros councillor Fitzroy Beache and PNM MP for Point Fortin Paula Gopee-Scoon. Four village councils from Bonasse, Granville, Chatham and Bamboo were part of the protests. President of the Granville Community Council Shankar Teeluchsingh said since 2009, several institutions in Cedros including the District Revenue Office, Warden’s Office, Births and Deaths Registrar’s office as well as TT Post were shut down.
They also complained that in March, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan visited the district and promised to have extended working hours and an ambulance service at the Cedros Health Centre. “That never materialised and we still have people from Icacos and Fullarton dying because they cannot get to the Point Fortin Hospital in time to save their lives,” Teeluchsingh said, adding that it now takes more than 40 minutes to get to Point Fortin from Icacos.
He said 60 per cent of youths were unemployed and suggested that the Government build fish and shrimp farms in the peninsula to alleviate unemployment. Bobby Ramlochan said life has become difficult for more than 150 fisherfolk since fishing permits for T&T nationals were banned by the Venezuelan authorities. He called on the Government to negotiate a new fishing treaty with Venezuela to allow local fishermen an extended boundary to ply their trade.
Ramlochan said fishermen were risking their lives to earn a livelihood. He added that if a new treaty was not agreed to, the Government could develop domestic fish farms. Meanwhile, taxi drivers said the cost of their vehicle’s maintenance has increased because of the deplorable road conditions. Ramdass Jagoo said: “We are fed up of this. Just two months ago I had to change a cradle bushing. My shocks gone and that too needs fixing.”
Sunil Sookram, of Cedros, said residents would not stop the protests unless they got a visit from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. “She is the only Prime Minister who has never visited us...We want her to drive down and see how depressed Cedros is,” he said.
Contacted yesterday, Councillor Beache said he had spoken to junior Works Minister Stacy Roopnarine who promised to begin road repairs after the budget. He also said the Government was in the process of completing the doctors’ and nurses’ quarters so that the Cedros Health Centre will offer 24-hour service.
Beache said an ambulance was already in place. Denying he was a poor representative, Beache said under his watch, ten agricultural access roads were paved, a pavilion was built at Unity Road, toilets were installed at Manmohansingh car park and lights were installed at Bolieau Recreation Ground. He also expressed support for the domestic fish-farming industry, saying it will indeed alleviate unemployment.
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