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Thursday 19 July 2018
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Duke takes protest to the high seas

Watson Duke

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader and Public Services Association (PSA) President Watson Duke will be swimming from Scarborough, Tobago to Toco, Trinidad, on Monday from 8 am to protest and highlight the urgency to address issues concerning the sea bridge.

Duke told the media during a press conference yesterday at Scarborough Fishing Depot, that his plans were not for fame but for equality for Tobago. “By whatever means is necessary, we will take that means and commence by swimming,” Duke said. “We will be doing that understanding the perils out at sea, understanding that the water is mixed and the currents are heavy.

“Understanding there are dangerous fish out there but we are doing it with all the safety precautions like we would have the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, rescue team, a doctor and a nurse on a vessel alongside the swimmers. We are doing this for Tobago.”

When asked his about those who called his idea absurd, Duke responded, “Silence. Actions speak louder than words.

“There is a time to talk and there is a time for action, our actions will speak. The time for talking is long gone.

“If nothing else matters we are going to the ultimate. Like Christ going to the cross, we will put our life and take the strain and every stroke we make and water we swallow out there it is done with Tobagonians in mind.”

Duke will start the 246 km swimming protest with assistance from other members of the THA Opposition and fishermen from the All Tobago Fisherfolk Association (ATFA). Duke said the event would be historic and would give Tobagonians the courage to speak up. He added it would also become a catalyst for affected stakeholders to demand fair treatment from Central Government. Duke slammed Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s recent efforts to address the current air and sea bridge issue. He said, “We want him to have a real meeting to have a conversation with Tobagonians. He has been having conversations with people in North, South Trinidad but he hasn’t had any in Tobago. The only meetings he held in Tobago was closed door.” Last month, Duke along with members of the public and minority opposition marched 25 kilometres from Argyle to Scarborough for seven hours demanding an end to nepotism and equity in the Tobago House of Assembly.

He then recalled times where the Opposition attempted to warn the THA and the Government about issues with the recently procured Cabo Star and Ocean Flower II.

“We have tried every single thing to raise this issue with the sea bridge on the national agenda,” Duke said. “We have tried but unsuccessfully. We have gotten a lot of talk and no action.

“What we need is for this issue to be placed on the national agenda and keep it there until something happens. What affects Tobago should affect Trinidad and Tobago.”

Opposition member and representative for Parlatuvier/Lanse Fourmi/ Speyside constituency Farley Augustine said the effort would show that Tobagonians wanted to play a significant role in the decision making for the next procurement process.


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