Couva North MP asks gov’t to prioritise farmers, vendors and fisherfolk in vaccination drive

Couva North MP asks gov’t to prioritise farmers, vendors and fisherfolk in vaccination drive

Couva North MP, Ravi Ratiram, is calling on the Minister of Health, to consider as a matter of priority the vaccination of registered farmers, fisherfolk and market vendors who sell every week at the various wholesale and retail markets throughout the country.

In a statement to media, Ratiram said the Rowley-led PNM Government is showing its lack of consideration to Agriculture and Fisheries, “with their disdainful treatment of our farmers and fishermen, this time by the Minister of Health.”

“Following 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 has started its’ rollout of Phase 2 of said programme. In this phase, frontline essential workers in specific Government Ministries, Departments and sectors have been identified.”

However, Ratiram noted that to date, “there has been no mention of our farmers and fishermen as part of this vaccination process. 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 persons collectively interact with thousands of customers and market-goers on a frequent basis. Given the general neglect of our farmers and fishermen by Minister Rambharat, and the resultant absence of these groups from being priority listed in the Government’s vaccination rollout programme by Minister Deyalsingh, each and every market day is in effect, a potential super-spreader event waiting to happen,” he added.

In April this year, the Chaguanas Market had to be immediately closed and sanitized after it was discovered that a vendor tested positive for COVID-19. Following that incident, it is unknown as to how many other persons may have contracted the virus through interaction at the various market spaces across our country.

The Public Health Regulations, at Section 3, Sub-regulation 2(aa) lists as essential, “services relating to food, beverage and agriculture, fisheries”. Last week the Commissioner of Police acknowledged the essential service provided by our farmers and fisherfolk and issued a release to clarify special consideration for this group of workers during the curfew hours.

Ratiram asked “Why then is it that the Minister of Health has, up to this day, failed to recognize the essential service that is being provided by our farmers and fishermen? While the provision of vaccines for employees of members of the supermarkets association, education officials and persons in the construction industry is supported, what about persons in our primary industries of agriculture, farming and fishing who are responsible for the food security of our nation?”

He said “The citizens of our country continue to lose confidence in this Rowley-led Government who have 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 T&T. The shameless abandonment of our agriculture and fisheries sector by Minister Deyalsingh and this Rowley-led Government is beyond reproach and will not be tolerated.”

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