– as fishermen experiences terror on the Corentyne
The safety and security of fisherfolks have once again come under the spotlight with the recent brazen piracy attacks off the Corentyne Foreshore, where several fishing vessels were robbed and one man shot in his shoulder by three armed men.
As such, the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud has announced that Guyana will be enhancing co-ordination with Venezuela and Suriname to fight this scourge. Though Persaud did not reveal the specifics of this coordinated approach, he stressed that those at sea will see them.
According to a press release, the police are investigating reports that between 05:30hrs on Thursday June 30 and 19: 00hrs on Friday July 01, three men armed with shotguns attacked and robbed five captains and 19 crew members of five fishing vessels off the Corentyne Foreshore, Berbice, and another two captains and six crew members in Suriname waters.
The Guyanese captains whose fishing vessels were attacked are Herman Baldeo, 45, of No. 43 Village, Corentyne; Iqbal Bacchus, 27, of Rampoor, Corriverton; Vincent Peters, 32, of No. 46 Village, Corentyne; Rajesh Chunu, 40, of Lancaster Village, Corentyne; Ramroop Sukhan, 49, of Lusignan, ECD; and Nokhul Manohar, 31, of No. 41 Village, Corentyne.
The ordeal began at about 05:50-06:00hrs on Thursday morning. Speaking to this publication Steven Baldeo stated that they had just entered their boat at the No43 channel. He said that there were five of them in their boat He, his father Andrew Baldeo and three worker Bila, Birthy and Stally. The young man stated that as they were leaving the No 43 Channel, they were attacked by about three armed masked men who came out from the bush on the dam and ordered them to stop. The pirates then fired about two shot towards the boat one of which hit his father.
The pirates then boarded their boat and ordered them to lie down. As they sailed out of the channel the men then attached another boat which is from the Rosignol area. The pirates then anchored the first boat at the mouth of the channel and ordered the captives to board the Rosignol boat. They then went on a rampage and any boat that came into site was attacked. The perpetrators took away groceries, cell phones, fishing seine, and four outboard motor engines.
According to the fishermen one boat belonging to a fisher man from the NO66 Fishing Complex was sunk and everything stolen. Some seines were thrown overboard, while some the engines were disconnected. Most of the boats were from the No 43 and 35 areas, while others were from other locations including No. 66 and Rosignol Fishermen Coops.
According to the fishermen they were being threatened all the time and were told to lie in the cabin. They were then taken to the Paramaribo River where the pirates hijacked a small boat from Suriname.
All the fishermen were subsequently placed in one fishing boat and left adrift with their boats also drifting, while the armed men escaped in the fishing boat that was captained by the Surinamese Michael White.
Between 15:00hrs and 18:00hrs on July 02, all the victims were rescued with the assistance of other fishermen and Herman Baldeo has been admitted to the New Amsterdam Hospital in a stable condition.
The fishing vessels that were set adrift have been recovered with the exception of Ramroop Sukhan’s boat.
While it is the popular belief that the attacks were carried out by three escapees from the New Amsterdam Prison, Minister Persaud noted that when the judiciary prosecutes and sends criminals to prisons, measures must be put in place to prevent them from escaping.
He stressed that there needs to be unity in fighting piracy since it is not only the responsibility of law enforcement bodies. Persons have a responsibility not to purchase engines, seines and other items from a possible piracy attack.
The speculation about the involvement of the three escapees stems from the fact that police have received information that they are now armed with shotguns-similar weapons that the victims claimed were being carried by the perpetrators of the pirate attack.
This is addition to the fact that one of the escapees is the infamous pirate Kevin Narine called ‘Long Hair’.
However police officials have indicated that it is too early to determine if the escapees were indeed responsible since the perpetrators were all masked.
By late Saturday evening other fishing boats were steaming into port as the fishermen expressed fear for their lives, while the small-fishing industry threatened to come to a standstill.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more