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Wednesday 22 May 2019
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OWTU: Govt must clear air on land dispute

Ancel Roget
Ancel Roget

A pre-action protocol letter by Morvant Building Construction Company Limited (MBCCL) claiming proprietary rights on lands owned by state-owned oil company Petrotrin has been described by the Oilfields Workers Trade Union as a “serious allegation” which requires thorough investigation by Government.

Addressing a media conference at the union’s Paramount Building, Circular Road, San Fernando, headquarters yesterday, Roget said the union had received a copy of the pre-action protocol letter, as well as copies of several deeds, last Thursday.

The letter was sent to Energy Minister Franklin Khan by former Legal Affairs minister and attorney Peter Taylor.

However, Roget made it clear that the union did not have an opinion on the matter and only wanted Government to say whether it had received the letter and what it intended to do about it.

“We hold at this point no position on this issue. What we are doing is ensuring that the public hears about it and that it be investigated in the most thorough manner to ensure that the public’s interest is properly well served and that it is not kept a secret or that it is not buried under the expediency to pass this act in the Parliament and for the Government to go down a particular road.”

The letter alleges that Petrotrin did not own any lands that MBCCL currently occupies and that vesting Act No 27 of 1993 “cannot and did not transfer the fee simple or any proprietary title in the subject lands to Petrotrin.”

The letter also claims that the “fee simple title in the subject lands remains vested in Morvant Building Construction Company Limited.” However in a public notice dated June 17, 2017 and titled “Illegal Occupancy,” Petrotrin said that, according to the vesting act, “neither Petrotrin, Trintoc nor Trintopec has given, any authority legal or otherwise to Morvant Building Construction Company limited or to any of its associates employees and or agents to collect rents or grant permits.” The notice also listed several items such as pipelines and railways which were Petrotrin’s responsibility.

Plipdeco, in a public notice dated June 24, 2016 also advised tenants at the Point Lisas Industrial Estate to notify them if MBCCL contacted them in connection with their leasehold businesses.

Plipdeco stated there was a court matter between both parties at that time.

Efforts to contact Energy Minister Franklin Khan and Petrotrin chairman Wilfred Espinet were unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Roget said the population was already beginning to feel the “brunt’ of Petrotrin’s closure as there were long lines at gas stations with several motorists queuing to purchase regular gasoline as super gasoline was too expensive.

Roget said the union was also preparing to take to the streets regardless of how the Industrial Court ruled tomorrow in the industrial relations offence brought by the union against Petrotrin with respect to a perceived violation of a memorandum of agreement between the two parties.

“You would not have heard us saying anything because the matter is before the court and we are awaiting judgement which will be delivered on Monday (tomorrow). We are coming back out on the streets, the date and time will be announced.”

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