MP Ratiram: Why no vaccine rollout for farmers, fishermen, vendors?

Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram. -
Couva North MP Ravi Ratiram. -

COUVA North MP Ravi Ratiram is calling on Government to provide covid19 vaccines specifically for the country's farmers, fishermen and market vendors.

He said in a release on Thursday that not to do so would show a lack of consideration for this sector, which is critical to the nation's food security.

He said after the announcement of the Government’s vaccination programme, which has been full of blunders and excuses every step of the way, the Ministry of Health started phase 2 of its vaccine rollout.

In this phase, frontline essential workers in specific government ministries, departments and sectors have been identified.

However, to date, there has been no mention of farmers and fishermen.

"I therefore call on the Minister of Health to consider as a matter of priority our registered farmers, fisherfolk and market vendors who sell every week at the various wholesale and retail markets throughout the country, to be included in the vaccination rollout."

These people, Ratiram said, collectively interact with thousands of customers and market-goers on a frequent basis.

He said, "Given the general neglect of our farmers and fishermen by Minister (of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Clarence) Rambharat, and the resultant absence of these groups from being priority listed in government’s vaccination rollout programme, each and every market day is in effect, a potential covid19 super-spreader event waiting to happen.

"In April, the Chaguanas market had to be immediately closed and sanitised after a vendor tested positive for covid19. Following that incident, it is unknown as to how many other people may have contracted the virus through interaction at the various market spaces across the country."

Tableland farmer, Damian Singh, 38, died of covid19 on Sunday. -

In early May, Tableland farmer Damien Singh, 38, died from the virus which also sickened several other members of his family. His mother Lillawatee Singh, 70, who fell ill with the virus around the same time as her son, had recovered but died last week Thursday.

He pointed out that the public health regulations list as essential "services relating to food, beverage and agriculture, fisheries."

Last week, Ratiram said, the Commissioner of Police acknowledged the essential service provided by farmers and fishermen and issued a release to clarify special consideration for these workers during curfew hours.

"Why then is it that the Minister of Health has, up to this day, failed to recognise the essential service that is being provided by our farmers and fishermen?" Ratiram asked.

"While the provision of vaccines for employees of members of the supermarkets association, education officials and people in the construction industry is supported, what about people in TT's primary industries of agriculture, farming and fishing who are responsible for food security?"

Ratiram claimed that citizens are daily losing confidence in the Rowley government, "which had proven that they cannot be trusted with the health and safety of our 1.4 million citizens, as well as the untold number of foreign immigrants residing in Trinidad and Tobago."


"MP Ratiram: Why no vaccine rollout for farmers, fishermen, vendors?"

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