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Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh

Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh has likened the area to rural Venezuela saying it has become a ghost town.

On Saturday, Guardian Media visited the community.

Teelucksingh said when he entered the Siparia Regional Corporation he began lobbying for Cedros to be a major destination on the list of places for domestic tourism. He said there are close to 40 apartments for rent. However, with the present COVID-19 situation everything has shut down.

“Cedros is a rural community with just around a population of 12,000. We wanted tourism to become one of the economic drivers of the community. We had encouraged people and investors came in and started pumping in much-needed capital. However, the domestic tourism industry in Cedros may take very, very long to recover,” Nadia Abraham, the manager of Abraham’s Seclusion Guesthouse located in Bonasse Village, Cedros, said the community is ripe for tourism.

She said, “Well those who have invested have to feel the brunt of this lockdown. I don’t see the sector recovering anytime soon, but we will continue to maintain our high maintenance standards and are prepared for when the tourists start coming in again.”

Teelucksingh also called on the Government to remove value-added tax (VAT) from products manufactured by the National Flour Mills. He said Cedros is without a major grocery and has three pharmacies servicing the community that stretched from the outskirts of Cap-de Ville, straight down to Icacos. He said persons have to venture to Point Fortin or San Fernando to purchase grocery items.

“Even if people get a food card they may have to pay a taxi more than $40 to get to and from a supermarket.”

He said the fishing community has been hit the hardest by the restrictions. He said many are without an income and now have to hustle from a limited pool of jobs that include domestic work and catching crabs.

Fisherman Marvin Farria said he had been hit a double blow. Farria’s net was damaged when a trawler slashed it in two. Farria said a net costs around $15,000 and he has to resort to catching crabs for a living.

The blow to fisherman has affected the entire community’s access to food.

Teelucksingh lamented the situation.

“Cedros has become like parts of Venezuela where people have to go long distances to get food.”