Broken Sea-bridge…Tobago running out of food

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When the hidden issues on the removal of the super-fast Galicia was first made public by the TTWhistleblower, most thought the issues of contract; matters of political spite, and new beneficial partners could not possibly get worse.

But Tobago’s woes have worsened since then to such an extent that food prices, which are at times a fraction more expensive, are sky-rocketing and food is running out in Tobago!

Searching for food

Some Tobagonians families are said to now have to search from village to village, mini-mart to supermarket for items which we in Trinidad take for granted such as onions, garlic, potatoes.

Shelves are empty and appear set to remain that way for some time. And that is in the more populated areas.

The Jesus Christ Mini Mart’s shelves of perishable items are running out and when some items do arrive, the extreme exposure to heat has damaged some of the goods delivered.

In other villages around the outskirts of Tobago, items such as sardines, corned beef, Vienna sausages used for providing lunches for school children are increasingly hard to come by.

Even if the mini-mart and supermarket owners wanted to buy items in bulk and store them for longer periods, it is simply not possibly as supply is not the problem; it’s a matter of getting goods is sufficient quantities, on a sufficiently large and appropriately equipped vessel.

More cracks in the sea-bridge

On 11 May 2017, Dr Keith Rowley said he was not aware of any critical shortage of food in Tobago. He was responding to questions in the House of Representatives.

Rowley, however, said: “In some instances people are facing some losses to their businesses…there might be some shortage of materials in Tobago.”

Since then, little else but worsening conditions have been reported, to the extent that a workshop by the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) last Friday was dominated and overshadowed by the hardships faced by Tobagonians with a broken ferry service.

One of the speakers at the workshop was Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson.

Jackson spoke of the importance of transporting supplies and emergency personnel to disaster areas and urged Government and the business community to join hands and lead the way in more proactive disaster response programmes.

To many, that raises the question of preparedness in Tobago for not only torrential rainfall, but also its exposure to weather systems such as tropical waves, storms and hurricanes.

Seething with rage

Having foreseen the problems, Dr Rowley was still unable to provide clarity and certainty on a resolution to the sea-bridge collapse, even after a voyage to Tobago by Dr Rowley on the ferry on Monday (05 June 2017).

On board for the 3pm sailing, the ferry eventually left after 4pm and arrived in Tobago by 9pm after experiencing difficulties and some panic over an issue that arose during the voyage.

While Rowley claims to have made the trip in response to calls by Tobagonians for him to experience their woes, he was accused of slighting and insulting waiting protestors who wanted their voices heard directly by him.

Truck drivers were enraged by Dr Rowley’s failed to stop and engage them shortly after he arrived.

Dr Rowley took the opportunity to speak with port officials as well as members of the public who were there.

On his way out with the official Police entourage, Dr Rowley is said to have lowered his window to ‘smile and wave’ at protestors, leaving President of the Truckers and Traders Association Horace Amede saying: “We feel disrespected, we feel insulted and what we intend to do is pen three letters; one to the Tobago East MP, one to the West MP and one to the Prime Minister to see if we could have some answers from them pertaining to what is taking place on the sea-bridge.”

The THA Minority Leader and PSA President, Watson Duke described the Prime Minister’s trip to Tobago as a mockery of the long standing issues facing the sea-bridge.

And as of today, Tuesday 07 June 2017, no clear, final resolution to a growing crisis is in sight for Tobago.

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