Tobago House of Assembly (THA) assemblyman for Parlatuvier/ L’Anse Fourmi/ Speyside, Farley Augustine is calling on Tobagonians to “speak out and stand up”, let their voices be heard, and make the inter-island seabridge situation one they champion until the necessary result is achieved.
Augustine was addressing the hundreds of supporters gathered yesterday at the Scarborough fishing depot to witness the swim protest which was led by THA Minority Leader Watson Duke.
From as early as 6.30am, people began gathering for the protest which was originally scheduled to begin at 8am.
It started about 30 minutes later.
Augustine said that the swim was not aimed at breaking any world record, but more so to highlight the issues associated with the seabridge affecting the people of Tobago.
“The prospect of swimming to Trinidad might appear to be a ridiculous one,” Augustine said.
“But it is ridiculous in nature so that we can highlight how ridiculous this situation has become.
It has to be ridiculous that they stood in the Parliament on May 28 last year and announced that we would have new boats built beyond our specifications and more than a year later, we still don’t have new boats.
In fact, they gave us the Cabo Star and the Ocean Flower II which withered before it got here.
It is ridiculous that a prime minister who claims to be a Tobagonian, but who really may be a Tobagonian by birth but became a Trinidadian by boat, will come to us and admit that there was corruption and still the minister still there, the Port (Authority) board is still there, and they suspend a man who they believe was leaking information.”
Describing the task at hand as “herculean” Augustine said strong signals must be sent.
He said the business sector in Tobago and market vendors are suffering as they are unable to get produce to Tobago and others cannot go to Trinidad to get basic school books and supplies and legal documents cannot be filed.
Duke said the time has come for all of Tobago to stand together.
“This is not about Watson or Farley swimming,” he said. “We are all amateur swimmers, we are not professional. So this is not some kind of foolish bravado where we are trying to test, that is not the idea. The idea is that they have put us into this position where swimming may be the only option because swimming is the only thing we have control over. We do not have control over the boats. When it is ready it shuts down, when it ready, it doesn’t come… swimming is the only thing. The time for Tobago’s deliverance is now.”
The team arrived in Trinidad at approximately 2:06pm.