The Carenage Fish Fry Facility is not yet open to the public.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who is also MP for Diego Martin West, officially commissioned the facility on July 1.
Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein, Agriculture Ministry Ministers Avinash Singh and Nigel De Freitas and his Permanent Secretary (Ag) in the Agriculture Ministry Coomarie Goolabsingh were among those present.
A manager who attended the launch said it will open to customers in about a month. “They plan to open it in August. It is not officially open to customers. It is under the control of the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDeCOTT).
In the meantime, there are a number of things to sort out. People need to have their food badges,” he said.
“There are a few other small works to be done on the waterfront. They are actually building dining rooms for families. Even the program was made by UDeCOTT. Nothing was returned. Not even in the Ministry of Agriculture, which ministry he reports to,” he added.
The facility comprises 14 stalls selling fish delicacies spread over two one-story buildings with adequate dining and entertainment facilities. It has landscaped grounds that connect to a promenade along the water’s edge.
Last Thursday afternoon, when the Sunday Express visited the establishment, 14 kiosks were firmly closed and no customers were in sight. A security guard said, “We didn’t see anyone there. It is not open at night or during the day. Closer to the waterfront, a team of workers were busy building other parts of the promenade. A man said, “I don’t have a lot of information. All I can say is “I don’t think the Fish Fry is open. We saw no activity. You can check out next door at the Carenage Fishing Facility.
At the nearby establishment, fishmonger Randy Quintero, 58, who is also the public relations officer (PRO) for the Carenage Fisherfolk Association, said: ‘The establishment is not open yet. They brought refrigerators and stoves. They rent it out to people. When the sellers leave, the items will no longer belong to them. I looked around and saw about 30 bins locked in one room. I know they are for the site.
Quintero added: “What they had was a demonstration exercise during commissioning. Large gas cylinders must enter. They brought freezers for the bars. But nothing is happening yet. I don’t know what the deadline is. But when they have the official commissioning, they say, in about eight to ten weeks, the place should be up and running. »
Quintero added: “They are waiting to call a meeting with all the stakeholders. They will let everyone know when they can start working. They will give us a date from which we can operate. I believe the majority of people who have booths are from Carenage. Over 75-80% will be fish. The majority of things they will sell will be pastries and shark, roast fish, and barbecue fish. It will be fried fish such as caritas, salmon and red fish. Not too many wings and fries.
Quintero also said that several potential customers left disappointed.
He said: “Several days ago people thought he had opened up. I had to tell them it was an opening ceremony. People keep coming. It is claimed that $60 million was spent on the fish market, but I don’t have a figure for the Fish Fry. I’m proud that they spent a lot of money, not just for Carenage but for the country. I see where taxpayers’ money has been spent. I’m proud of it.”
He added: ‘Ever since I was little they had toilets with chains and a long coin or iron for flushing. At one point, part of the market caught fire. An old man put out a lantern and it set the building on fire. Fishing fixed it.
Regarding the contemporary facilities, he said: “I am proud of the two state-of-the-art facilities we have. We have two ice machines that make ice. Before, we had to buy ice cream at La Soufrière. We restored the lights around the pier. We have lights to protect the boats and the anglers get bait. We had asked for a service station. But we did not understand it. »
Moving on to his civic responsibility, Quintero said: “I look forward to protecting him. I have children. It took us about 20 years before we could get the market. We have marble tiles and sinks. Vendors buy ice cream here. When the cutlasses (exported to China) bite the fish “the men of the South” come here to sleep.
Fellow fishmongers Heubert Francois, Kareem Spears and Owen Peters also said they were “Fish Fry and Facility appreciators. They chorus: “It’s good for the people of Carenage.
Fuel costs too high
Meanwhile, Quintero and his friends said a bugbear remained the price of fuel. He also said he spent about $1,600 on gas to get his canoe to sail to the north coast (La Fillette). Expressing his anguish, he said: “Since the PNM came to power, the Minister of Finance (Colm Imbert) said that they had raised the gas about three times and no one had rioted. But I want the state to know that it’s not a good idea for fishermen to use premium gasoline. The best gas was regular gas. You can fill a car’s tank with gas and drive around Trinidad twice. But you can’t sail around the country with a ship full of gas. You have to work with the moon and the tides. For example, between August and September, the trevallies are hungry. I always say: “God knew who he chose as sinners”.
He added: “Premium gas kills fishermen. I used to pay $250 for a 20 gallon gas pan. Now the same 20 gallon bin costs $600. I have to fill two 20 gallon pans. It’s about $600 each and $100 for the bait. I am not a robot. I have to eat and drink on the high seas. Expenses are hard. When I do two days of work, I pay $1,600. All fishing gear prices have gone up. People’s wages haven’t gone up since 2013.”
Carenage’s Fish Fry Facility looks set to become a major specialty fish food retail center in Trinidad and Tobago. This was the statement of Agriculture Minister Kazim Hosein in his speech at the opening ceremony. Hosein said, “The facility will allow consumers to purchase a variety of fish delicacies prepared from the daily ‘catch’ of local fishermen. This interaction, in our view, will therefore create a privileged relationship between fishermen, consumers and sellers, while promoting the availability of high quality local seafood products”.
He further underscored the value of the Carenage Fish Hatchery and Carenage Fishing Center and its importance to the livelihoods of the fishing community as ongoing concerns such as climate change and its adverse effects on the global marine environment place them among the most vulnerable.
Trinidad and Tobago was currently charting the course to promote self-sufficiency and sustainability in agriculture, with this current initiative being the “golden example” of a system that fulfilled the broader goal of “strengthening the chain supply from farm to market,” said Hosein. .