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Moruga fishermen angry
Moruga fishermen are demanding to know why the Government built an inadequate $2.5 million fishing facility at La Rufin, instead of the promised $200 million Moruga fishing port. Designs on the original port done in 2009 by Royal Haskoning, one of Europe’s leading project management, engineering and consultancy service providers, showed it would be built on 250 metres of reclaimed land.
Its designs involved construction of an integrated fishing facility with drainage, potable water supply systems, waste collection, sewerage system, fuel supply facility, wholesale and retail market, and facilities for boat repairs. However, President of the T&T Fisherfolk Association, Peter Glodon said instead of proceeding with this offshore port, the Government built a scaled-down version at La Rufin, which has only 16 lockers to cater for 100 fishermen.
He explained that over 200 fishermen from La Rufin and Gran Chemin were functioning without proper facilities as there were no proper access channel, berths, landing sites, slipway, repair berth, processing sheds, cold storage or a proper meeting room. “They spent $12.6 million on a feasibility study for the port, yet they built a facility that cost $2.5 million which cannot help us,” Glodon revealed. He said the new facility had no box drains.
“Whenever it rains the water runs down here and floods out the place,” Glodon said. He added that it was illogical to have only 16 lockers when there were over 100 fishermen in La Rufin. “What we need here is a proper storage area for engines and nets, a place to repair boats, cold storage and a proper slipway.”
He also revealed that since the Gran Chemin gas station was shut down last year for selling substandard fuel, fishermen have been forced to journey to St Marys to get gas for their boats. He also said shrimp trawling and seismic surveys were destroying the fishing industry. Fisherman Ray Samuel said fishermen also needed proper security. He said it was customary for engines and other valuables to be stolen. “We need proper security here because when we lose engines, we are not compensated,” Samuel said.
Gran Chemin fishermen: We are worse off
But while La Rufin fishermen complained about their inadequate facility, Gran Chemin fishermen said they were worse off. Walter Anthony said Gran Chemin was the main fishing port in Moruga, yet it was La Rufin which got a $2.5 million facility. Giving a tour of the Gran Chemin boating shed, Anthony said the existing lockers were termite ridden. “The roof leaks and we have no proper place to repair our boats and nets,” Anthony said. He added that 80 boats operated from Gran Chemin.
“We feel neglected because for too long we waiting for proper facilities. All we getting is promises.” He said the Moruga Fishing centre was built 43 years ago. Krishna Boodoo said during high tides, waves beat into the shed, bringing water into the locker area.
“People who are squatting on the river bank at La Rufin are charging us $20 if we want to operate from La Rufin,” Anthony said. He said when the new fishing facility is being opened in La Rufin next month, fishermen will demand answers as to why a proper port was never built. Robert Boodram, a resident of Gran Chemin said residents needed proper roads and a health centre that would function on a 24-hour basis.