Member of Parliament for Couva South, Rudranath Indarsingh MP, a former president of the defunct All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union. (Image by SHASTRI BOODAN)
SHASTRI BOODAN

Ex-sugar workers who are still awaiting their agricultural and residential plots have been told not to get their hopes up, now that there is a new Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.

Speaking with Guardian Media, Member of Parliament for Couva South, Rudranath Indarsingh MP, said thousands of former employees of Caroni (1975) Limited should not expect to be treated differently by the new minister, Senator Kazim Hosein.

MP Indarsingh said thousands are still in limbo, although Caroni folded its sugar operations some 19 years ago, in 2003.

Rudranath Indarsingh was the leader of the now defunct All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union when Caroni 1975 Limited was closed down.

“The PNM’s agenda has been of wanting to withhold the lands from the former employees of Caroni (1975) Limited,” he told Guardian Media.  “The Union had to take the PNM Government of Patrick Manning to court.  When Justice Deyalsingh ruled on that matter, the PNM Government appealed that ruling all the way up to the Privy Council.”

The former sugar workers union boss said the matter was then removed by the People’s Partnership Government and 5,000 agricultural and 2,000 residential leases were given.

MP Indarsingh said he is suspicious of the reason why a Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture was appointed to deal with land matters.  He observes that Nigel De Freitas’ appointment to that post raises some questions.

He told Guardian Media: “I do not know if there has been land grabbing, unauthorized transactions… the former Minister, Clarence Rambharat, probably alluded to these issues…  Probably.  I do not know if he was uncomfortable with any minister within the Cabinet and their transactions from a land point of view in T&T.”