MINISTER of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne said TT is preparing an inspection team to visit the vessel Nabarima to confirm if the sinking ship poses any threat. The sinking tanker, which is permanently docked between Venezuela and TT has nearly 1.1 million barrels of crude oil stored in it.
Reports from international media outlets said the extent of the damage vessel is uncertain. On Tuesday, Browne told Newsday that the government has been in constant communication with the Venezuelan authorities who have indicated that the vessel is secured.
He said, “At present the TT government has accepted an offer from Venezuela to send an inspection team and we are working on the details of that, so that we can be satisfied with the representations made by Venezuela that the vessel has been properly repaired and poses no danger to the environment.”
Browne was unable to indicate when the TT inspection team will be ready to go to Venezuela. But, fear and anxiety looms over the heads of fishermen from Carli Bay to Cedros who claimed they were yet to receive an update from the government on the status of the sinking Nabarima vessel in the Gulf of Paria.
Cedros councillor Shankar Teelucksingh who spoke on behalf of the fishermen told Newsday on Tuesday that the issue was raise several week ago, but the authorities seemed unconcerned.
He said, “Our hands are tied but the Prime Minister and the Ministers of National Security and Energy have very close links and cordial relationships with the Maduro government. And well, if the Maduro government is telling them they have it under control, then okay.
“But we do not trust that. All of TT should be concerned because it is an environment hazard that threatens livelihoods, in an already tough economic situation.”
Teelucksingh believed it was environmental disaster waiting to happen and has accused the government of dragging their feet on the matter. He explained that it was out of his MP’s hands at this point because of the involvement of international territories.
He said, “We are not hearing anything from the authorities who are our watchdogs. Their lips are sealed, and they are being irresponsible.
“We are voicing our concerns to save our communities, but the PM and the minister of national security tend to bump their gums and not address the recommendations.”
Teelucksingh said the fishermen were not surprised by the lack of interest by the authorities, since they suffered an oil spill last month and were yet to receive and redress.
“We are still awaiting the fingerprint on that oil spill which usually takes about seven days, but here we are today with no communication on the matter. That spill has cause 38 vessels to dock and left 38 families struggling to meet their needs in an already hard economy,” he noted.
Activist group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) has been lobbying for intervention through co-operation from international organisations. FFOS general secretary Gary Aboud said he wrote to the local authorities, the US Ambassador and the European Union for help, but to date his letters have gone unanswered.