The Government of Trinidad and Tobago through its state entity, Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Limited, has no option but to rehire the former security personnel of Petrotrin in an effort to best secure the assets of its three newly formed successor companies.
It was truly upsetting to learn via media reports on Sunday that over 20 million dollars in state assets belonging to the state oil company, formerly known as Petrotrin were lost, stolen and destroyed by thieves as well as saboteurs.
Even more distressing to our citizens was the answer by the Minister of Energy to my Urgent Parliamentary question at Monday’s sitting of the House of Representatives, requesting him to state the cost and company that has provided security to the three new oil companies in the last 6 months. Astoundingly, the Minister informed the public that Amalgamated Security is being paid 2.8 million dollars per month to provide security.
It is a slap in the face to our citizens that over 16.8 million dollars in their tax dollars have been paid to Amalgamated Security, yet over 20 million dollars in assets have been lost. In light of these startling figures and the occurrence of theft, our citizens must question the government as to whether this really was value for money.
This dilemma which lies squarely at the feet of the government yet again reflects their lack of proper planning in the restructuring of Petrotrin as they failed to consider a proper security plan to protect the integrity and value of Petrotrin assets.
In their eagerness to “break the backs of the Unions” and send home workers, making space for private entities to be hired, they failed to understand that the experience, knowledge and understanding of the former Petrotrin Security meant that these individuals went beyond the call of duty in their services.
The former security officers were the first line of defense for equipment, machinery and other assets throughout the company. In the many instances of mechanical failure or urgent situations, it was these individuals who reported the matters to the relevant personnel.
Given the vulnerable and dire situation which this government’s lack of due diligence has placed the new oil companies in; I further questioned the Minister on the possibility of reinstating these former security officers to alleviate situation. His answer however, gave little comfort as all he indicated was that the current contract was for 6 months and after such time security services would be re-tendered in three packages.
The Minister of Energy and all high level officials at Trinidad Petroleum Holding Company must understand that this situation must be dealt with in a stringent, strategic and urgent manner. It is imperative that they comprehend that this problem calls for a solution of experience and institutional knowledge.
As a result, the only way to ensure that no further assets of the state are lost at Heritage Exploration, Paria Fuel Trading Company and Guaracara Refinery ltd is to re-hire the former Petrotrin Security Personnel forthwith.
Failure to bring these individuals back on duty at these companies would clearly indicate that government is more concerned with offering contracts to possible supporters as opposed to ensuring the security of the assets of our citizens.