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Children glad schools open

By Richardson Dhalai Tuesday, January 7 2014

The children of La Brea were “overjoyed” to return to school yesterday, even after an oil spill put a damper on their Christmas holidays.

The seaside community at Queen Street, Coffee Beach was among the hardest hit communities following the December 18 oil spill, one of 11, and many parents were unsure whether to send their children to school.

However, there was hardly any school-aged child around at Coffee Beach yesterday. Resident Esther James said she had sent her two children to their classes at La Brea RC Primary School and Point Fortin East Secondary School.

“They were both very happy to go back to school,” she said.

With her home close to the beachfront, James said during the first few days of the oil spill she was unable to breathe properly but had received medication and felt better.

“The fumes used to affect me. I had a sore throat and headaches but I got medication and it doesn’t affect me again,” James said.

Wendell Thomas, who was employed with the clean-up crew, said his daughter also returned to class at La Brea RC.

“I had to tote her to the car so her clothes and shoes wouldn’t get dirty but she was anxious to go back to school,” Thomas said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said all schools in south western peninsula opened and teachers were present.

On the clean-up, Thomas said the exercise resumed at Coffee Beach on Sunday and most of the local residents were being employed with the crews.

Thomas said the clean-up may take as long as three months given the work needed along the sea- shore and the mangrove. Meanwhile, La Brea fishermen said they had not received compensation for their losses since the last payment on December 24.

A fisherman said Petrotrin has not dealt with the restoration of their boats, now covered in oil.

“They are not allowing us to see about the boats while they are in the water because of the oil and that is damaging the boats,” he said, adding a few boats were dragged ashore but fishermen did not receive any solvent to clean them.

Also fishermen reported that three boat engines, worth an estimated $21,500 each, were stolen from the Otaheite Bay depot.

Jagdaye Harilal, whose son Sookdeo lost one of his engines in the robbery, complained about the poor security at the depot.

“It have no security at the locker building. All it have is a little padlock that they used to secure the building and that look like it was ripped off the door by the thieves,” the irate woman said, before pointing to a large padlock at the boat shed which she said was being used to house boats that were in need of repairs.

She said officers from the Oropouche Police Station visited the depot and were investigating the robbery.

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