Naparima MP Rodney Charles has said migrants are continuing to enter Trinidad and Tobago illegally from waters off Cedros.
Contributing to debate on the $52 billion budget on Saturday in the House of Representatives, Charles slammed the Government’s management of the country’s porous borders, describing it as “a monumental PNM shameless disaster.”
He said as a result, migrants have continued to enter the country illegally.
“I have been advised by fishermen and residents of Cedros that illegal immigrants are entering our waters daily undetected by the authorities,” Charles said.
“The seven-mile strip between Cedros and Venezuela is like a virtual Solomon Hochoy Highway with PH and regular marine taxi service.”
Charles recalled he had heard a marine expert say, earlier this year, that the coastal radar system could not detect wooden vehicles because at slow speed the propeller sounds like ocean waves on the sonar.
“When I heard this I was shocked. Is this why so many illegal pirogues carrying drugs, guns and people go undetected?”
He asked, “What has the Government done yearly with the millions spent to upgrade our radar system?
“But the minister tells us in this budget that they are going to upgrade the coastal radar system but puts no allocation in the budget to complete the upgrade. Madam Speaker (Bridgid Annisette George), what a joke? You are talking about a coastal upgrade and you put no allocation in the budget. How will it be done Mr Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert), by douens?”
Charles said the PNM has talked about upgrading the coastal radar system for the past several years but it is yet to materialise.
“Over $73 million spent and 14 dead bodies arrive in Tobago undetected. Lord, lend a hand. Lord, help us. Lord, graciously help us from this band of incompetent leaders that we have.”
Charles also poured cold water on Imbert’s boast, during his presentation of the budget, that citizens were safe and secure in TT.
“Who feels safe in Trinidad and Tobago? The victims of home invasion, the citizens traumatised by execution styled killings of their families and neighbours, the hundreds of citizens and businesses robbed daily. Where is the secure Trinidad and Tobago of which the minister boasted in this budget?”
He said citizens are not safe in their homes, streets and business places.
“It is sad. It is sad that this is where it has come to. The minister claims that we are safe and secure. He is delusional.”
In his contribution to the debate, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne spoke at length about the Government’s response to the covid19 pandemic.
He chronicled its efforts in acquiring vaccines, praising the Prime Minister for his stewardship over the past 18 months of the pandemic.
“No leader has engaged more with the population, day after day, week after week for two years,” Browne said.
Noting the country received 581,219 doses of WHO-approved vaccines free of charge since the start of the pandemic, Browne said to date 536,817 people in TT are fully vaccinated.
Browne, a former National Aids Coordinating Committee technical director, said many social media users who have been discouraging people from taking the vaccines are already vaccinated “or will soon wish they were as Delta (variant) spreads across the world.
“I am speaking to citizens who are not yet vaccinated and I am putting on my old public health hat here. Whenever you are ready, we have caring and considerate and willing public health practitioners. Some of them are tired but they are waiting for you and are willing to assist you and your family as you make that right decision.”