Demming: Paria, LMCS blame game exposed lack of preparedness at both companies

The blame game continues about what really caused the death of the four divers employed by LMCS Ltd (formerly Land and Marine Contracting Services Limited) on premises belonging to Paria Fuel Trading.

The public blaming and shaming are coming from all directions and continue to fuel confusion about what happened. All of this simply deepens my mistrust in our public institutions and confirms once again our broken systems and processes.

Photo: LMCS Ltd lost four divers in a workplace accident last month.

Since 1902 when Randolph Rust struck oil in the Guayaguayare forest, Trinidad and Tobago has been producing oil. Since 1902, it seems, we have repeatedly taken a non-collaborative approach to analysing our oil disasters.

It is high time we changed that and started cooperating to establish one investigative committee and livestream the proceedings for all to see. Step-by-step public accountability should be the best moral disinfectant to clear the air and provide information for the world to see.

I am stunned that the Opposition UNC appears to be lurking in the shadows, just waiting to pounce on any entry point to damage the government while the government appears to be standing still, almost as bystanders rather than as leaders. Meanwhile, the population is saddened and traumatised by this tragedy and the daily reminders of the death and the pain spawned by its continuing lead story status in the local media.

In my opinion, Paria and LMCS are equally to blame and have both demonstrated a total ignorance of or disregard for standard operating procedures in times of crisis. Had there been regular table-top exercises to simulate potential disasters, all concerned would have known their roles and responsibilities and lives would possibly have been saved.

Photo: Who’s to blame?

There would be no accusation that LMCS was not allowed entry because the disaster plan would have been activated and everyone would have been operating under emergency conditions.

The fact that LMCS issued a public statement full 11 days after the disaster leads me to conclude that there was no holding statement in place. In their media statement, they seek to take the moral high ground by affirming that their concern is for the families. I have no reason to doubt that. But, I ask, why so long a delay before making a public statement?

Might it be that, in the 11 days since February 25, LMCS has been consulting with whoever they must in a bid to find sufficient fabric to cover their behind?

Paria did a little better. Still, their actions demonstrate a lack of preparedness to manage both the crisis and the communications about the crisis. It is painful for me to accept that, despite a 35-year career with companies like bptt, Methanex and NewGen, the Paria CEO presided over such ineffectiveness.

Photo: Paria Fuel Trading CEO Mushtaq Mohammed.

Here is an opportunity for all to collaborate in the national interest. These players must have the courage to draw a line in the sand and say, “Let us come together and plan a way forward.” This bacchanalian approach is simply damaging our country and adding more pain to all involved.

I wonder how this is being viewed globally. I wonder how the energy companies on the ground are responding to this lack of professionalism and pre-planning. These deaths have already been recorded as a major disaster. That is highly unlikely to be the kind of message that encourages any conglomerate to say, “Ah! Here is a country where my venture can thrive and grow.”

If these multiple private investigations are held, I guarantee you that some premature, unfinished version of the report will be leaked, the public will get the wrong information, and the blaming and shaming will continue to be aimed in the wrong direction.

Ultimately, it is Trinidad and Tobago that will be the losers. Our collective pride will continue to suffer serious blows.

Sigh… How long before this era of incompetence comes to an end?

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One comment

  1. Excellent and newsworthy commentary by Dennise Demming! I suspect that she will be given many more opportunities to make critical observations about issues in T&T. I suspect too that institutional and governmental readiness for problem solving will not be effectively implemented until education, especially as it relates to the youth, is no longer actively and subconsciously inhibited by a colonial past.
    Hence my question is, in 2022, is there a sincere and collective “WE” in T&T that puts country first?

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