Fisherfolk block access to Urlings dock in protest over fuel subsidy

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Fisherfolk who operate out of the Urlings Fisheries Complex blockaded access to the facility yesterday morning, demanding that government make good on its promise to provide them with a fuel subsidy.

Cabinet decided on March 23 that taxi drivers, bus operators, and fisherfolk would begin receiving a 25 percent fuel subsidy via a voucher system as of March 24.

The move was intended to offer reprieve following the March 15 price increase in gasoline and diesel.

However, fisherman Jameson Kublai Mannix told Observer that scores of frustrated fishers, who had been forced to pay the new higher rate of $15.70 per gallon of gasoline at the pump up to Monday, decided to take a stand Tuesday.

“We have been asking questions without getting any good answers. The workers felt that they were being disrespected and it’s full time they stand up for their rights. They decided it’s time for it to come to an end so the place was barricaded,” Mannix explained.

The protest ended when a fisheries official came to the facility with the vouchers.

But Mannix said residents standing up for their rights should be standard practice.

I hope that this becomes a precedent here in Antigua and Barbuda where when we have issue such as this, we take a stand. We make sure that the powers that be understand that the people are the ones who gave them jobs, they must be respected and their wishes must be met,” he told Observer.

Mannix said, however, that there was still an issue with the precise amount fisherfolk were being asked to pay after the subsidy was applied.

He explained that with the 25 percent discount, they should be paying $11.78 but fishermen were asked to forked out $12 per gallon to fill their vessels before departing the complex on Tuesday morning.

Observer sought clarity from officials at the Fisheries Department who declined to comment.

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