Icacos fishermen are calling on Minister of National Security Stuart Young to say who authorised soldiers from the T&T Regiment to destroy five fishing sheds in the village which are used to store fuel and catch.
The demolition which was captured on video, shows armed soldiers standing guard while an excavator pushed down a shed near the Icacos beach. Two of the sheds were located on state land while the other three were built on private land at Lalla Road.
A fisherman, who requested anonymity, said the soldiers arrived after dawn on Thursday and never allowed them to remove their catch or fuel from under the sheds.
“They gave us no warning or notice,” the fisherman added.
Councillor for the area Shankar Teelucksingh said the sheds were used to store their catch because the Icacos fishing village had no proper fishing facilities or infrastructure.
“On a daily basis, the fishermen of Icacos, Cedros, Fullerton, Bonasse, Point Fortin and Erin risk their lives in an attempt to earn a living to provide for their families. They are afforded no protection by the State because of the constant cry of lack of resources,” he said.
“They are robbed, hijacked, attacked and beaten by bandits on the high seas without any protection from the State. Each time they leave their families and head out to sea they have no guarantee that they will return. When they do return, they must take their catch and weigh it in sheds that they construct on the beach because they have no fishing facility to store and preserve their catch until the vendors arrive.”
He noted that the fishermen were already suffering because of high fuel prices and piracy and now because of the dismantling of their sheds they had no way of storing their catch.
“This Government does not have the resources to complete the Icacos Fishing Facility that would provide the facilities for the fishermen to ply their trade in humane and healthy conditions but they made sure to provide the resources to equip the Regiment to destroy the property of innocent hard-working fishermen. What the fishermen had to provide for themselves due to the failings of the Government, the Government made sure and destroy,” Teelucksingh said.
Calling on the Minister of National Security to explain “the oppressive and shameless action,” Teelucksingh asked, “Why does he not deploy the army with the same alacrity to protect our citizens who are under siege by the criminal element? What has the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries have to say about this type of action perpetrated against our fishermen? They must be made to account! This Government has demonstrated a level of arrogance towards citizens that is unprecedented.”
He said the law enforcement bodies have failed to monitor, guard or protect T&T’s porous borders.
“They had no fuel to equip aircraft and boats to search for the bodies of innocent fishermen who were murdered in cold blood but the Regiment under the command of the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister had the resources and the equipment to proceed to Icacos and demolish the property of innocent fishermen seeking to make an honest living,” Teelucksingh added.
A senior official from the T&T Regiment said they had information that the sheds were being used for illegal activities.
Efforts to contact Minister Young for comment proved futile as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.