Sinanan hopes for win-win with ministry, Lake Asphalt

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Lake Asphalt workers kneel in front the company’s gates in September last year as they called on government to intervene to ensure their salaries were paid. –

WORKS and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan is hopeful the transfer of Lake Asphalt from the Energy Ministry to his will be a win-win scenario for his ministry and the company.

At a PNM meeting in Diego Martin on April 5, the Prime Minister said the company was placed under the Works and Transport Ministry, with the National Infrastructure Development Company being its operating agency.

Dr Rowley said Lake Asphalt’s revenue was negatively affected by the closure of Petrotrin in November 2018, since much of that revenue came from selling bitumen from the Petrotrin refinery. Bitumen is a by-product of the crude oil refining process and is used as a binder to hold asphalt together.

Rowley also said a new business model will be created to make the company sustainable.

On Sunday, Sinanan said Cabinet’s decision to transfer Lake Asphalt was made two weeks ago. He said this was done after a thorough review of the company’s operations.

“At the end of the day, Lake Asphalt has been under some sort of scrutiny within the last couple of years.”

Sinanan said the company has been challenged with delivering bitumen which the ministry needs for road-paving works.

With the ministry doing two-year projections for the amount of bitumen it needs, Sinanan believes the new arrangement will help the company improve its production to levels which would ensure the local market is not challenged in terms of bitumen supply.

He hoped it would also help bring some level of viability to Lake Asphalt.

Sinanan did not know how the status of operations at the company with the Cabinet’s decision taken only two weeks ago. He said there are still some legal issues to settle with respect to the transfer.

Once those issue are settled, he said his ministry will “take it up from there and move forward with it.”

In a statement on April 8, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) said no prior notice was given before Rowley spoke on April 5. JTUM described the decision as disrespectful to the company’s workers.

Last November, Energy Minister Stuart Young got Cabinet’s approval to provide Lake Asphalt with subventions to help it pay its expenses, including workers’ salaries. The amount of the subvention was not disclosed.

This happened after Lake Asphalt workers knelt in front of the company’s gates in La Brea in September last year and pleaded with Rowley to intervene to ensure their salaries were paid.