ALTHOUGH the registration of Venezuelans has ended, illegal immigrants are still coming in droves into Penal.
President of the Penal/Debe Chamber Rampersad Sieuraj said the migrants continue to arrive through the porous borders of Morne Diablo and Lamoshell beaches, the latter which is near the mud volcano.
“From here, they walk straight into Penal and take up occupation,” he said. Sieuraj said there are thousands of Venezuelans occupying “every corner, nook and cranny” in Penal, overwhelming the community, which already has a population of 90, 0000 and a budget of $40-$50 million for the Penal/Debe Corporation to provide services.
Immediate past president Shiva Roopnarine said the chamber, in collaboration with the regional corporation, has launched a migrant relief drive designed to collect non-perishable goods and clothing to distribute to the migrants.
Donations can be made to the corporarion at 218 SS Erin Road, Debe on Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm. “The chamber has recognised the humanitarian aspect of this disaster we are faced with, although it does not take away from the fact that the programme of registration was ill-planned,” Sieuraj said. “We have no idea who are the bandits, the criminals, drug traffickers, those who came with illnesses.”
He said government lost an opportunity to get some benefits by sifting through the process to target labour for the agriculture sector, which has declined from 40,000 to 18,000, and which could have helped with the diversification process.
Similarly, he said where there is a shortage of skilled labour, Venezuelans who are plumbers, masons or carpenters could have been given entry, rather than the carte-blanche approach flooding TT with both good and bad.
Sieuraj said he is very concerned about the potential burden on the health sector, which is unable to provide beds or even Panadol for locals.
“How is the health sector going to treat with additional people who are coming here with new and existing illnesses?”