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Monday 11 November 2019
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EPA: Let us protect the assets

PRESIDENT of the Estate Police Association (EPA) Deryck Richardson is refuting claims by the Prime Minister that the EPA was offered the job to protect the assets of the now defunct Petrotrin.

On June 14, Dr. Rowley in response to a prime minister's question in Parliament from Naparima MP Rodney Charles said the EPA was offered the job to secure the assets. Charles reported that the EPA on November 28, 2018 warned the Government through the Trinidad Petroleum Holdings board that there would be massive theft and loss of assets after the termination of estate police officers.

Asked why the warnings were not heeded, Rowley said he was not aware of any warnings but was aware the EPA was offered the first opportunity to be the body responsible for securing the company's assets. "And I am not aware that came to pass, and therefore I don't know what the member is referring to."

Richardson told Sunday Newsday that no such offer was made otherwise the EPA, having secured the compound for years prior to the shut down and built a rapport with the surrounding communities, were more than ready and able to protect the assets.

“No such offer was made and if any such offer had been made, we would have taken the offer. We had a meeting with Mr. (Wilfred) Espinet asking him to rescind his decision to dismiss the EPA workers on November 28 last year. That was two days before the shutdown of Petrotrin” he said.

Following Petrotrin’s closure, five companies; Guaracara Refining Company, Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd, Paria Fuel Trading Company, Petrotrin as an entity will remain as a company to deal with legacy matters, and these will all be placed into one, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd, were formed in its stead

Charles had asked about the steps to secure the taxpayers' interest given reports that over the past six months Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd lost some $20 million to "thieves and saboteurs" and spent $5 million on replacing stolen or damaged equipment. Rowley replied that Heritage, like any other company, has been upgrading and improving its security systems to prevent or end "such wanton misconduct on the part of persons who want to harm the company." He said where feasible Heritage has been using improved fencing, installed CCTV cameras and maintained a security patrol system backed up by police with assistance from the Defence Force.

Richardson added that his officers are willing to secure the properties with the “institutional knowledge” they have under a new company. He said many of the surrounding communities are not pleased with the closure of Petrotrin and the formation of new companies and have been turning a blind eye to the thefts taking place but assured that his officers can secure the items from scrap iron dealers who have been making a killing off of stolen metal.

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