|‘Rough’ greeting for McLeod |
By RICHARDSON DHALAI Thursday, August 7 2014
POINTE-A-PIERRE MP and Labour Minister Errol McLeod received a rough ‘welcome’ from Marabella residents during a tour yesterday of areas affected by the July 29 oil spill.
Amid jeers, he advised residents to form a five-person committee to meet with Petrotrin’s senior management officials to discuss issues arising out of the oil spill.
He toured Silk Cotton Road, Battoo Avenue in Marabella which was badly affected after a ruptured low pressure storage tank spilled over 5,000 barrels of slop oil just over a week ago.
He was accompanied by Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, Petrotrin chairman Lindsay Gillette, Petrotrin president Khalid Hassanali and a large contingent of heavily armed police officers. McLeod appeared unfazed by comments directed against him by the crowd some of whom warned him that “just now” he would be seeking their votes in the 2015 General Election.
However, the large group of residents which included both elderly and young persons, allowed their MP to address them although they often interrupted him whenever he said something they did not support.
“I am suggesting we set up a small team of yourself, my brother, you and four others to meet on as regular a basis as necessary with members of the management of Petrotrin and you will deal with all of the issues being raised here now,” McLeod said, adding, “I want to suggest you begin as early as tomorrow 10 am, to meet.”
However, McLeod was less forthcoming when, asked by reporters why he had waited almost eight days to visit the community, saying pointedly: “I don’t have to address that...I am here now!”
Asked about the possible relocation of residents, he said, “this is something that has to happen over great planning and a period of time. I can’t tell, I am not a town planner.”
He was jeered when he informed residents that planning for such a relocation may take up to 20 years.
“There is a refinery there and you here, you are in fact in a disaster zone. There is no question about that and for years we have existed...we have co-existed. The refinery there and you out here and one would have expected we would have learnt from incidents of the past and would be putting in place the kind of measures that would make that place as safe as possible,” McLeod said.
At this comment, the crowd shouted, “that is not good enough!” However, McLeod stood his ground. “And I am being very level headed in this. I have come to make no promises to you, ok. I eh (sic) going to make no promise!”
He then commented on the mood of the crowd saying he had not come expecting a “docile crowd” but one which was “hyper” and would demand answers. “When I came here, I did not expect a docile crowd, I thought that everybody would be up and hyper and you have not disappointed me in that regard.
I want to tell you that I am pleased with this meeting and we are going to take things forward. I want you to hold the peace insofar as your interests are concerned, hold the peace,” McLeod told the residents.