Energy Minister Franklin Khan yesterday promised members of the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association to establish a refuelling station for fishermen around Tobago, but urged other sections of the agriculture division to revamp its operations immediately.
Vice president of the association, Curtis Douglas highlighted the issue during the Joint Select Committee on Land and Physical Infrastructure’s meeting at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough. Douglas said Tobago fishermen have been neglected for the past few years causing the fishing industry to suffer and their pleas to have a refuelling station were ignored. He said fishermen resorted to illegally transporting gas in a jug to refuel their fishing vessels.
Khan said he was unaware that there was never a refuelling station available for boat owners in Tobago but promised to address their concern.
“I’m going to do my own research and give a commitment outside of the Joint Select Committee that I will follow up personally on that matter,” he said.
Khan said Tobago is in a crisis after listing over 15 local fruits, provisions and vegetables including tomatoes, lettuce, dasheen, potatoes and cucumbers being imported to Tobago. Khan said the situation with the air and sea bridges has shown how vulnerable Tobago is where the island is unable to feed itself.
“I call upon the department of Food Production, Fisheries and Forestry (to understand) that you have a responsibility to this island. You are the drives of government policy and you have a responsibility to come up with some plan that could take Tobago out of this state. It is critical.
“I don’t know what the solution is, but the seabridge issue has exposed, at a fundamental level, the structural weakness of Tobago’s economy especially as it relates to agriculture and food production. If the Caricom jetty doesn’t work, Tobago would be in trouble. Somewhere along the line you all dropped the ball and, if you don’t pick up that ball quickly, you will hurt deeply for it. When you are unable to feed yourselves with basic commodity you are at a great risk.”