THA tab for Sargassum clean-up nearing $4 million

Residents have expressed some relief as most of the heavy masses of Sargassum seaweed have been removed from Speyside during the Tobago House of Assembly’s clean-up campaign between August 2 and August 22.

But Chief Secretary Orville London has advised that the influx of seaweed is not over.

The mass influx of seaweed first occurred in Speyside on July 31. The reddish-brown algae has impacted the residents, hotels, restaurants fishermen, and recreational use of the beach. So far, close to $4 million has been spent in sargassum seaweed clean-up operations at Speyside.

At the weekly media briefing at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall on Wednesday (August 26, 2015), Chief Secretary Orville London said Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) and Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) workers will assist in clearing the seaweed.

“The situation has not abated,” London said. “Seaweed continues to come into Speyside on a daily basis. But the situation is not as unmanageable and untenable as it was prior to that.”

“Our intention is to expand the CEPEP and URP gangs so that they clean on a daily basis to make sure that it does not become as overwhelming as it was.”

London added: “Based on the information that I have [received], a total of 1,983 truckloads or approximately 12,000 cubic yards of seaweed was removed from Speyside,” London said. “This does not (include) seaweed clean-up in other areas, including the Blue Waters Inn and Magdalena (Hotel).”

The Chief Secretary commended the Division of Agriculture, Marine Affairs, Marketing and the Environment and Assistant Secretary Handel Beckles for spearheading the clean-up. He also praised the Speyside residents who volunteered to help remove the seaweed.

The Tobago House of Assembly will also collaborate with agencies in other countries, he said, to find ways to combat the seaweed problem.

“We are quite fortunate because many of our (other) beaches have been unaffected,” London stated.

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