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Saturday 16 February 2019
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Cedros port upgrade as Venezuelan shoppers pour in

SIPARIA Regional Corporation (SRC) chairman Leo Doodnath has promised to upgrade the Cedros port as well as address public health and safety issues as that port has seen a daily influx of dozens of Venezuelans who visit specifically to shop and carry back home, basic food items and toiletries that are in very short supply in Venezuela.

The South American neighbour is in the the grip of a serious economic downturn and resultant social and political unrest caused by the plummet in world prices for oil - which is that country’s chief income earner. “There are immediate problems that need to be addressed such as a leaking cesspit and an overflowing soakaway.

By next Wednesday, our technical people will be here to address the issue. The toilet facilities are also insufficient. Within a month’s time we are hoping to accommodate ten persons at one time in the toilet facilties. We are placing emphasis on public health,” Doodnath said.

He was speaking to media personnel at Cedros following a meeting with officials from the Cedros port located on the beachfront at Bonnase Village geared at addressing the major concerns and challenges of the port. Among the officials were representatives from the SRC, Immigration Department, Coast Guard, Customs and Excise and the police officers.

In recent months Cedros, which is a legal port of entry in Trinidad, has seen an influx of Venezuelans.

This is mainly because of the social, economic and political problems being experienced in the neighbouring Spanish-speaking nation.

He estimated that at present about 75 Venezuelans enter the port every two days and when the facility was constructed some 20-plus years ago, it had catered for only about ten percent of that figure.

The chairman noted that 98 percent of the foreigners who legally entered the island return to their homeland. Many Venezuelans enter the island simply to purchase food items and some even spend the night in “public spaces” as they await transportation (boat) to return to Venezuela. “Local businesses are prepared for the influx of Venezuelans. Some Venezuelans are overnighting but that matter is being addressed by the police. Police assure there are no issues relative to the behaviour when Venezuelans pass through here.” Councillor for Cap-de-Ville/Cedros, Ramesh Sewnal said the Venezuelans are a boon to the economically depressed area in Cedros. “It is a boost to the economy as they are coming ready to spend money.

The Venezuelans behave well and come in legally. Business is booming.

Most of the residents do not have an issue with the arrival of the Venezuelans,” Sewnal said. Venezuelan Magdalena Montrose, 66, of Maturin said two locations in her home country, namely the Capital District and bordering state Miranda, are not affected by food shortages.

The mother of two explained that mechanisms put in plce by past president Hugo Chavez for his “own people” are helping to create the crises her homeland faces.

“Chavez did some good things and some bad things. A lot of people who Chavez helped, they just took the money. He tried to help the people but they are making mischief. The own people from his party are mashing up his business.

They are not doing the things right.

(Nicolas) Maduro could give orders, but it takes two hands to clap,” she said.

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