Young declines to comment on Paria enquiry

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Energy Stuart Young – AYANNA KINSALE

ENERGY Minister Stuart Young declined to take any questions from the media on any topic, after he addressed the opening of a new National Petroleum Marketing Co Ltd (NP) service station in Mayaro.

After cutting the ribbon, unveiling two commemorative plaques and making a brief tour of the station, Young made his way towards his vehicle.

He was approached by the media, who wanted to ask him several questions.

Young smiled and said, “No comments today.”

He got into his vehicle and left shortly afterwards.

One question Young did not comment on was a request by the Paria Commission of Enquiry (CoE) to President Christine Kangaloo to extend the deadline for the submission of its report into last February’s fatal accident at Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd to November 30.

On February 25, 2022, divers Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Christopher Boodram were doing maintenance work on a 30-inch underwater pipeline belonging to Paria when they were sucked into it. Boodram is the only survivor.

The CoE was originally due to submit its final report to the President in May. But in a statement on May 5, the commission said it had written to Kangaloo seeking an extension until August 31. It has said it sought the latest extension so that it could be fair to all parties concerned.

Young also did not comment on a newspaper report that the cost of the CoE was now $21 million.

The Prime Minister announced the CoE on March 8. In a television interview in July, Dr Rowley made no comment on newspaper reports that the cost of the CoE at that time was $15 million. He said CoEs were expensive undertakings and used the Clico CoE as an example.

Rowley said it was because of this experience, Government’s initial idea was to use a technical team to investigate and report on the Paria accident.

“This would have been much cheaper and would have reported long ago.”

Rowley said some people politicised the accident before any examination of the facts happened. He added these same people are now complaining about the CoE which they demanded.

The commission will hold a virtual news conference on Wednesday at 10 am to answer questions on its request for a new deadline.