Months after deadly fire at NiQuan, victim’s family seeks closure

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Allanlane Ramkissoon –

SIX months after a fire at NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd’s (NETL) Pointe-a-Pierre facility claimed the life of Allanlane Ramkissoon, his family are still seeking closure, especially after Government said it could not release to the public a report on the fatal incident.

“If you are not at liberty to make the report public, at least let the family know how he died, so there could be closure,” said Allanlane’s sister Ruth Gobin, during an interview with Newsday on Christmas Day.

Ramkissoon, 35, suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body in the June incident. He died three days later, while being treated in the US.

Ramkissoon was a pipefitter  with Massy Energy Engineered Solutions Ltd (MEES), which was contracted by NETL to work on the gas-to-liquids plant.

Several investigations were initiated by the Ministry of Energy, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) and NiQuan. OSHA temporarily shut down the plant.

In the Senate last week, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon – speaking on behalf of Energy Minister Stuart Young – in response to a question by Opposition Senator Wade Mark, said the report on the NiQuan accident will not be laid in Parliament, as the matter is sub judice.

Mark has asked about the laying of the root cause analysis (RCA) report in Parliament.

Gopee-Scoon said the report was commissioned by NiQuan, a private company and hence it is not the property of the Energy Ministry, but is subject to the control of NETL with respect to its circulation and distribution.

“The ministry is not at liberty to disclose the contents of the report nor its authors, as to do so would open the ministry to liability and potential litigation,” she said.

During the phone interview on Monday, Gobin cried several times as she spoke of the family’s struggle to cope with Ramkissoon’s untimely death, especially in the face of silence from NiQuan and the Government on the circumstances of the incident.

DEEP SORROW: Ruth Gobin screams at the funeral of her brother Allanlane Ramkissoon ,who was fatally burned in a fire at his workplace, NiQuan Energy Trinidad Ltd in Pointe-a-Pierre. File photo by Lincoln Holder

She recalled that Allanlane was the first one at their family’s Barrackpore home on Christmas mornings to bring presents for their parents, Danny and Christine Ramkissoon. He would always get a new dress for his mother to wear to church on Christmas morning.

“She got a new dress, but it was just not the same this year.

“All the children are gathered at the family home, like we normally do for Christmas lunch, but this year there was sadness and emptiness. There was not joy,” Gobin said.

She recalled that after Ramkissoon’s death, Young had promised transparency in the investigation and said there would be no cover-up.

“Now we are hearing something different. Now we are hearing that the reports cannot be laid in Parliament and thus cannot be made public. But at the very least they could try and bring his family closure.

“My parents are humble people. They would not do anything drastic. All they want to know are the circumstances surrounding Allanlane’s death.

“They never got to see him after the accident. At his funeral, he was in a closed casket.

“It is really hard for us.”

Gobin said she is unaware if the company had communicated with her sister-in-law, Allanlane’s widow Sarah.

Newsday called Sarah’s number on Monday, but got no response.

In July, Allanlane’s widow, through her attorneys, wrote to MEES demanding a comprehensive report on the accident.