Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 11th 2013 Contents A11
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Traffic crawled along the Mos-
quito Creek, La Romaine, on Tues-
day, as about 20 "crab catchers"
came out with placards to protest
being denied access to the man-
grove there while it was being
destroyed to make room for the
new San Fernando to Point Fortin
This prohibition, they said, was
directly affecting their livelihood of
catching crabs and selling to the
Contractors from the Construtora
OAS, brought in by the National
Infrastructure Development Com-
pany Limited (Nidco), began clear-
ing mangrove along South Trunk
Rd about a month ago to accom-
modate construction of the new
Several men and women who
rely on the crabs, oysters and fish
found in the mangrove have been
banned from entering during the
work by OAS.
As a result, they say they have
lost thousands of dollars and are
demanding some type of dialogue
with Nidco as well as compensation
for their losses so far.
"They taking we bread," said
Ashook Lalman, a crab vendor who
has been going to the mangrove for
25 years and selling on the creek to
make a living.
"I want the Government to look
in to this please. I feeling very dis-
appointed and hurt...this was my
means of living to support my fam-
ily."Ronald Charles, another vendor
who described himself as "born
and bred" in Oropouche, said he
had been catching crabs in the
mangrove since childhood, and was
upset about the lack of communi-
"No one spoke to us. No one told
us anything. We not against the
road being built ... however, we the
people that use this mangrove as
our livelihood need to be compen-
He said the average crab catcher
would make between $400 to $500
a day and now they had nothing.
Angeline Rassul, 40, an oyster,
shrimp and conch vendor since she
was 20 years old, claimed she had
Mangrove being cleared for highway extension...
Crab catchers put on breadline
lost about $500 a day for the past few
She said she had no other source of
income and had been surviving on her
savings, which are now dwindling.
"They have to give me compensation
for taking my bread line."
When asked what alternative they
had to earn an income, many vendors
said they may be eventually pushed into
crime as a last resort.
"We not joking. What we going to
do now?" said one unnamed and dis-
"By cutting the mangrove they take
away we job from we."
Robert Nandlal, owner of Creek
Supermarket in Oropouche, who organ-
ized the protesters, told reporters that
the crab catchers needed to regain access
to the mangrove and resume their daily
He said none of the vendors were
consulted prior to the work.
"These equipment going in there
without any consultation, they destroyed
all the crab traps."
Nandlal said all the crab stalls along
the South Trunk Road were now empty,
meaning no money was coming in while
vendors had their families to feed.
"It s already a month they have no
work, they have no source of income ...
They have no money to buy milk and
pampers. This is a protest about bread
He said they wanted to have a meeting
with Nidco to discuss the appropriate
Nidco consultant Edward Moodie,
who was also at the protest, said the
company did not realise the scope of
the problem until recently.
"I got a call this morning that a num-
ber of people were being affected."
He said all the people wanted was
their grievances to be heard and get res-
olutions, which was what Nidco intend-
ed to do.
"Now we have information, we will
have dialogue with these people and try
and be able to move forward."
Wendell Baboolal, 24, said the exca-
vator being used to conduct the work
had destroyed all of his crab traps and
he was banned from the mangroves. He
said his losses so far were significant.
"If they could pay us for what we
have lost...my baby is a year and six
months now, it s milk and pampers I
have to buy. We not getting nothing."
Dr Wayne Kublalsingh, head of the
Highway Re-route Movement, who went
on a hunger strike last year in protest
of the planned highway between Debe
and Mon Desir, said he supported the
highway extension between San Fer-
nando and Point Fortin, but it was unfor-
tunate that meant the mangrove would
"It is unfortunate ... but we need the
San Fernando to Point Fortin Highway."
He agreed it was a setback to the crab
vendors and the mangrove system, but
said those were "minimal" compared
to the effects of the extension between
Debe and Mon Desir.
Crab catchers and residents of Oropouche stage a protest against the clearing of mangrove along the Mosquito
Creek, La Romaine, on Tuesday. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL
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