Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 9th 2014 Contents A9
Thursday, October 9, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
6.1000 6.1946 6.3433
5.2917 5.5702 5.8766
9.4647 9.9628 10.5008
7.4549 7.8473 8.2789
****** 0.0573 0.0607
2.0886 2.2702 2.2491
* 2.5400 ****** 3.2355
for OCTOBER 08TH, 2014
Yachties are threatening to pull
out of T&T because they claim
immigration officers are demand-
ing fees---as much as $3,000---to
extend their stay if they wanted
to complete repairs to their yachts.
They come to T&T from all over
the world to have their boats
repaired, whether it is engine,
upholstery or body repairs, because,
they say, T&T is one of the best
dry docks in the Caribbean.
Rent of a berth for the month
is US$1,000 and some yachts have
to stay for over 12 months because
of delays in repairs. Their average
cost of living for about a year is
Many businesses along the west-
ern peninsula benefit from yachties
business. Speaking with the T&T
Guardian on Tuesday, a boat owner,
who only chose to identify himself
as an European who is in T&T
working on his boat, said he was
asked by an immigration officer to
pay $500 for an extension.
"One time before I had to pay
TT$100 for a three-month exten-
sion...now I got problems and they
say I have to pay TT$500.
"I saw them put some of the
money I gave in his front pocket
but I say nothing because I wants
no trouble," he said.
Another yachtie, a German,
invited the T&T Guardian on board
his yacht, which has been in dry
dock for about a year. He did not
want to give his name for fear of
being a target of criminal elements.
He said he was approached to
pay a bribe for an extension but
"We have certain legal informa-
tion on every country and I can
safely say that we yachties are sel-
dom involved in crime and criminal
activities. "We highly expect that
the authorities respect the inter-
national contract that covers us
from the United Nations.
"I know that certain officers in
Trinidad leave the legal base for
whatever reason but they want to
take our money but I do like Bob
Marley say, I stand up for my
rights. I am not going to pay bribe."
The German retiree, who has
been visiting Trinidad every 18
months since 1988, docked in
Chaguaramas in October last year
and was only placed in dry dock
in November. He said within the
last five months he had strange
"I was told that I have to leave
and cannot get an extension
because I come here too often. I
was told never to come back.
"Then suddenly when I went
today (Tuesday) at the Immigration
Office, the four officers I usually
saw were not there.
"One officer was there and he
granted me my extension without
any hustle. It was strange but it
worked out for me because my
yacht is still under repairs," he
He said his fellow yachties were
becoming more and more frustrat-
ed and planned to leave the island,
never to return.
"In 2008 when I came there
were 3,000 yachts here. When we
are here we create employment for
about 500 people. In 2010-2012
there was a significant decline to
about 1,000 boats.
"So think about why and think
about how many people remain
unemployed. We help the unem-
ployment and we help boost
tourism and the economy through
our foreign exchange," the retiree
His wife said she recently
encountered a problem at Piarco
Airport when she returned to
Trinidad from a short vacation.
"I flew in-and-out four times
before and this last time I was told
by an immigration officer that I
needed a letter from the captain
so I said no problem, but I tried to
explain that I had no problems
before and why the change now?
bench for an hour only to be told
by a supervisor later on I can go
ahead because I am a Caricom
member," she said.
"This is outrageous as to what
is going on here in T&T. How could
each and every immigration officer
seem to have a different agenda
and their own rules?" she asked.
The German said he was con-
fused as to why the immigration
officers were holding them to ran-
som and ill-treating them and
called on the T&T Government for
It was a sad day yesterday at the
Emperor Valley Zoo, Port-of-
Spain, as zoo workers mourned
the death of one of their iconic
animals, 20-year-old Simba, the
Speaking with the T&T Guardian
yesterday at the zoo, curator Nirmal
Biptah said Simba was discovered
dead at about 6.30 am.
He said: "His keeper came to do
his normal daily routine and found
that Simba was asleep but after he
noticed he did not move and
checked on him only to discover
that Simba was dead.
"This has left us very sad, more
so for the senior members of staff,
who worked with him all these
"We always looked out for Simba
and he showed his love for us by
rubbing himself on the fence. He
would surely be missed."
He said he was glad that Simba
had lived to the age of 20, which,
he said, exceeded the 15-year
expected lifespan of African lions
in the wild.
Biptah recalled his fondest
moment with Simba, who weighed
approximately 400 pounds.
He said: "When Simba was born
on November 21, 1994, we noticed
he was not getting enough milk
from his mother so I personally, as
the head keeper at that time, would
hold him in my arms and bottle-
"Now that he grew big he would
eat about 25 pounds of meat every
two days, whether it is horse, beef,
goat, sheep, ducks and rabbits.
"He loved every meat he was
given. He ate it all up, just like
Trinidadians, who don t make joke
with our food."
Biptah said Simba was buried a
few hours after but did not disclose
There are now five lions left at
the zoo: Siblings Kuvo, Musafa and
Scar; the white female lioness, nine-
month-old Nala and white lion, 11-
Kuvo is now occupying Simba s
den. He was moved there after it
was fully sanitised.
Biptah explained: "There was sib-
ling rivalry going on with him and
his brothers so we had to separate
them, well, at least him from the
other two. He is already settled in
what used to be Simba s home."
After $3,000 extension fees...
Yachties threaten pullout
Zoo mourns death of Simba
A file photo of Simba, the African lion which died at Emperor Valley Zoo
Minister of National Security Gary
Griffith, when contacted on the issue,
He said he had not been aware of
the situation but promised to speak
to Chief Immigration Officer Gerry
Downer about it. Griffith, in the
interim, recommended to all yachties
not to fall prey to officers who
attempted to manipulate them in any
way to pay bribes for extensions. He
said they should immediately contact
Downes or him personally and report
the immigration officers.
Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz
said although the yachties did not fall
under his ministry he was aware of
the issue and understood the line
minister, Minister of Trade Vasant
Bharath, met with them recently.
Bharath could not be reached for
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