Hope is slowly fading for relatives of missing Moruga fisherman Essau Gajadhar, who disappeared at sea 12 days ago. Yesterday, Gajadhar’s sister Sylvia Baboolal, of Mayaro, admitted that relatives are fearing the worst for the 52-year-old father of five.
“It is not nice feeling that my brother out there and we do not know if he alive or dead. If we get a body we will feel a measure of satisfaction and some closure,” Baboolal said. Gajadhar, of Gran Chemin, Moruga, left for a fishing trip on December 22. He was expected back the following day. However, when he did not return, boat owner Renny Nicolas, whose vessel Gajadhar was using, launched a search, together with other fishermen.
They found Gajadhar’s fishing net, but there was no sign of the father of five or the boat. Baboolal said the family has no idea what happened to Gajadhar or what condition he may be in if he is alive.
“We do not know if he alive, if he hungry, if he hurt, if he suffering. We do not know nothing. They (police) said they have no knowledge, no information on anything yet. They (fishermen) said they were going to look for him,” she said.
Nicolas, when contacted yesterday, said fishermen had been looking for Gajadhar but they too fear the worst. “We still hoping that he will turn up but we are afraid that he is dead. Twelve days gone and nothing, no sign of him,” Nicolas said.
Gajadhar’s son Randy, 27, said his siblings were grieving, as well as Gajadhar’s two grandchildren. “It is a real serious thing. Everybody missing him. It (the holidays) was real hard for us, to know that he missing and nobody could find him. I was a fisherman. I know how it is out there. It is not easy,” Randy said.
President of the Gran Chemin Fishing Association, Lawrence Toussaint, said on Sunday the association’s executive was meeting to discuss the challenges fishermen were facing in Moruga, especially the threat of pirates.
He called on National Security Minister Jack Warner to respond to the fishermen’s concerns.
Toussaint said fishermen were gradually going back to sea even though they feared for their safety. “Fisherman one by one going back out. It is our livelihood, we have no choice. It is something we have to deal with. Lives have been lost before this and it will go on,” Toussaint lamented.
T&T Coast Guard public relations officer Kirk Jean-Baptiste, when contacted yesterday, said the search for Gajadhar was continuing. He said the day after Gajadhar went missing the Coast Guard was contacted.
“We have been doing searches in conjunction with the Air Guard. We sent out an urgent marine information broadcast (UMIB) to all mariners to be on the lookout. It is not just the Coast Guard, we know fishermen are searching. So far we have come up with nothing,” Jean-Baptiste said.
He said initial searches were challenged by conflicting reports, as the first report stated that Gajadhar went 25 miles out to sea, but the Coast Guard was later told it was actually four miles. “If you tell us he went Point A we do searches based on sea currents, wind currents, drift patterns and tidal patterns. We give the Air Guard the same co-ordinates and patterns so they could assist.
“As to what happened to him, we do not know. He went alone,” Jean-Baptiste said.
He appealed to fishermen to go to sea wearing life jackets and to carry marine radios, rocket flares and flashlights, which are available at fishing shops. Jean-Baptiste said there was still no sign either of missing Carapichaima fishermen Bisram “Pine” Sookdeo, 48, Derick Bilbadal, 36, and Arnold Anoop, 37. They disappeared at sea on October 21.