President of the Carli Bay Fishing Association Imtiaz Khan (second from left in red t-shirt), and fishermen stand in front of one of the potholes at Carli Bay Road on Tuesday. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

Fishermen operating out of Carli Bay, Couva are demanding that the authorities fix drainage problems on the roadway leading to the bay. 

Imtiaz Khan, president of the Carli Bay Fishing Association, along with a group of disgruntled fishermen spoke with Guardian Media on Tuesday morning, and told us the roadway is riddled with potholes and floods not only when it rains, but also when the tide is high and the nearby river overflows.  

Imtiaz Khan said although the roadway is maintained by the Ministry of Works, no repairs have been done in several years.  He also reported that the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation occasionally renders assistance through Allan “Taxi” Seepersad and Ramchand Rajbal Maraj, the local government councillors for the area.

The fisherfolk spokesman said fishermen also have been assisting by filling the holes with discarded mortar and bricks from construction sites. However, he said, major work is needed to repair and raise the roadway. 

 “Sometimes we have to use boats from Orange Valley to access the boats.  There is also an abandoned mud road we have to use behind an abandoned rice mill on the estate,” Khan said.

“We have around 200 registered fishermen operating out of Carli Bay. Fishermen purchase around $1,000 a day in gas. When we purchase gas, we also pay the Road Improvement Tax, yet the roadway for us to fish is left neglected. This is one of several problems we are having that includes security, lighting, cell phone reception. We are in a state of desperation,” he told Guardian Media.

Meanwhile, Councillor Seepersad revealed that the Works and Transport Ministry is expected to begin remedying the situation soon.

“After months of lobbying for assistance from the Ministry of Works we expect to see some progress this week,” he said.  

“The Ministry of Works’ asphalt hot-mix plant has broken down, but we are using road surface millings (this is materials recovered from road paving exercises) along with oil to patch holes, starting in Mc Bean Old Road, Carli Bay and Camden,” he explained.

He added: “Once the hot-mix plant is up, the officials promised that more patching would be done.  Both Councillor Rajbal Maraj and I have been lobbying to get some relief for the fishermen. They have it extremely hard.”