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OWTU: Tobago blackout due to poor maintenance, not sabotage

Exect VP OWTU Peter Burke, addresses police interference at T&TEC Cove Plant Tobago at the OWTU Paramount Building, San Fernando.

PHOTO BY: MARVIN HAMILTON
Exect VP OWTU Peter Burke, addresses police interference at T&TEC Cove Plant Tobago at the OWTU Paramount Building, San Fernando. PHOTO BY: MARVIN HAMILTON

THE Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) has said poor maintenance and not sabotage –an accusation being levelled at workers – caused the recent electrical blackout in Tobago.

OWTU’s executive vice president for T&TEC, Peter Burke, called on the electricity company’s general manager, Kelvin Ramsook, to apologise to the workers for the unsubstantiated allegations, even as investigations are taking place into the cause of the blackout.

Burke charged that a lack of maintenance of the Cove power plant, T&TEC’s most expensive single asset, is to be blamed.

At a news conference at OWTU’s Paramount Building, San Fernando on Thursday, Burke said the power outage in Tobago on September 27 occurred when a sensor inside the plant automatically shut down because it detected hot gas or smoke. He said this halted the gas supply to the generator, causing the generator to shut down and the entire island to experience a blackout.

He said Ramsook, accompanied by police, visited the plant and before an investigation even began, workers were accused of sabotage.

“The OWTU condemns this action in the fullest. You cannot without any evidence cast aspersions on the integrity of the workers of the Tobago plant who have been making several complaints about the maintenance practice of the plant."

Burke said the plan is starved for proper equipment and replacement parts and that the date for a maintenance overhaul has long passed.

“We call on the chairman of the T&TEC. Keith Sirju. to intervene and apologise to the workers and make a serious attempt to ascertain the real problems at the plant.”

He said if the plant is not properly maintained this could have serious consequences for the people of Tobago.

TTEC communications manager Annabelle Brasnell said she was not in a position to say whether the workers had been accusedof sabotage.

She said the investigation to establish the reason for the blackout is ongoing and she could not speak to any specific claims of the incident being linked to lack of maintenance.

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