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Head of the Carli Bay Fishermen Association Imtiaz Khan

Carli Bay fishermen have claimed that National Security Minister is telling untruths when he lamented that fishermen in central and south Trinidad are not utilising the added security measures put in place by the State to protect them from piracy.

Describing the recent murders of fishermen Parasram Boodoo and Navindra Garib as ‘abhorrent’, Hinds said just last month a meeting was held with the Member of Parliament for Couva South Ravi Ratiram as well as Deputy Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob and Coast Guard officials.

The June 14 meeting produced several recommendations such as the establishment of a Coast Guard base in central Trinidad, construction of a security booth at the Carli Bay Fishing Facility and the emergency repairs of Coast Guard interceptors which can operate in shallow waters.

At a news conference yesterday, Hinds described the resolutions as “responsibility for us in National Security and responsibility for the fishermen,” and in that same breath said he was disappointed that the fishermen are not doing their part to protect themselves.

Hinds said recently a command post was set up by the Coast Guard in San Fernando, so that fishermen could alert the Coast Guard as to their whereabouts, thus enabling the Coast Guard to deploy a vessel nearby.

He said, “The commanding officer of the Coast Guard has unfortunately reported to me as Minister of National Security that not one single phone call notwithstanding the email and phone numbers and cell numbers that were shared with the fishermen so that they could call and say when they were about to go out on a fishing expedition or where they could be.”

Hinds added that training was organised by the newly formed Police Marine Unit to educate fishermen on how to use their flares in emergencies; however he said too was ignored.

“Inspector Tate tried and tried and tried again to get the fishermen to present themselves in groups for the training we had promised and not one was conducted,” he said.

Hinds said he could not fathom a reason why the fishermen did not take advantage of the systems.

But when Guardian Media reached out to Carli Bay Fishing Association president Imtiaz Khan he said he expected this narrative.

“I knew they were going to do something like this,” Khan said.

With respect to calling the Coast Guard to alert them of their whereabouts, Khan said they have tried on many occasions with the numbers they were provided and could not get through.

“In the recommendations we provided since 2019, we would have asked for a hotline so that when we call you don’t tell us to wait on the extension or to hold on and wait to be connected because sometimes nobody answers.

“I asked fishermen to call to test the system to verify this.”

Khan also said the training on flare guns came at a bad time for the fishermen.

“The week the incident happened with the two fishermen we were helping the families and we couldn’t neglect the families for the training.”

Police have charged 37- year- old Ramjit Lalchan with the two murders. DCP Jacob said the case was still ongoing as the police searched for accomplices.