Trinidad and Tobago: As we all know that UNC works tirelessly for the people of Trinidad and Tobago. A resident commented, “The Opposition appears to be the real government.”
Moreover, the local newspaper of Trinidad and Tobago has published UNC’s statement, which says:
The United National Congress (UNC) has challenged the Government to bring in independent international experts to determine what caused the explosion at NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd in Pointe-a-Pierre.
At about 6.35 a.m. on April 7, the recently- commissioned gas-to-liquids plant’s hydrocracker system failed during an attempted start-up. This resulted in the blow-out of the DA301 system, part of the product cleaning process, and caused an explosion and fire, which rocked areas as far as Vistabella, La Romaine, Gasparillo, Tarouba, Siparia and even La Brea.
‘We need first and foremost international independent experts to go into that NiQuan plant,’ said UNC Senator Anil Roberts at yesterday’s UNC news conference at the Opposition Leader’s office in Port of Spain.
‘I am not an expert, and we are not versed in this country in explosions and the associated risks and risk management.
‘We need an internationally-based firm to do an audit of that plant, check it, seal it, and give a report to be laid before a Joint Select Committee. We don’t trust the current ministers to conduct any investigation, nor do we currently believe that our fire services have the technical capability to analyse a plant of that nature and size.
‘For now, we know it’s blown up, and it can blow up again. We know it’s not produced any product. We know workers have not been paid. That’s what we know, and it’s enough for us to call on a pause on the processes there,’ Roberts added.
He said that, without this, the NiQuan plant might potentially be a major risk to people in the surrounding ‘fence line communities, as well as the assets on the compound itself.
He claimed the explosion was one of the largest this country had experienced and had damaged the homes and vehicles of citizens nearby.
Roberts called on the Government to lay out clearly how these affected persons would be remunerated for any damage sustained.
‘What is the plan? We have citizens with walls cracked, TVs broke, windows shattered, and so on. So what is the remuneration like? Especially since NiQuan is making no money. How will they be able to recoup citizens who have sustained losses?’ Roberts asked.
UNC forgives US Embassy
The UNC also said it was surprised by the United States Embassy’s travel advisory warning of the threat of terrorism in Trinidad and Tobago; Roberts said that all was forgiven. He said, to him, the situation could have been handled better, and the UNC had not said anything untoward but noted that the areas usually listed in the US advisory were People’s National Movement (PNM) strongholds.
‘To the US Embassy, we forgive you for the little error,’ Roberts said.
Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal noted that the UNC was entitled to interpret the advisory as it saw it best in their minds on behalf of the citizens of this country.
This, Moonilal said, was to whom the UNC’s statement was directed to, not the US, but the people of this land.
‘The US government has always been warning about certain areas, and how it relates to crime and human trafficking and so on. So it recurs, and it recurs in the same communities. This is nothing new.
So, I was a bit taken aback, personally, by the decision of the embassy to respond, because as memory serves, they did not issue such releases when the Venezuelan president came here. They did not write up anything when banned aeroplanes came to land at the Piarco Airport.
So while I want to be diplomatic and cautious, I would suggest that the embassy be similarly cautious in the issuance of statements,’ Moonilal stated.
To prevent any further confusion in the future, he suggested that in the next release, the Embassy should not only identify PNM strongholds.
In the wake of UNC comments on the US travel advisory, the US Embassy dissociated itself from the UNC news release in which the party claimed that the Embassy ‘had advised US citizens not to visit PNM strongholds’.