Progress Made In Quarry In­ves­ti­ga­tions

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kayra Wil­liams Min­is­ter Her­mangild Mar­tinique.

When Na­tional Se­cu­rity

Fran­cis took to the podium on Mon­day morn­ing at this week’s pre-cab­i­net meet­ing, his first order of busi­ness was is­su­ing an up­date in re­gard to last month’s quarry ex­plo­sion at a Rayneau Group of Com­pa­nies-op­er­ated fa­cil­ity. The in­ci­dent claimed the lives of four work­ers and left sev­eral oth­ers in­jured. The min­is­ter ex­pressed that he em­pathized with the fam­i­lies, par­tic­u­larly that of the lat­est vic­tim to suc­cumb to his injuries in

“I want the public to un­der­stand that the gov­ern­ment is very se­ri­ous about get­ting to the bot­tom of what hap­pened at the quarry,” he said. “We had some in­ves­ti­ga­tors here, and they have now in­di­cated that they are fin­ished with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and they are in the process of pre­par­ing a re­port which will be sub­mit­ted to the po­lice and the DPP.”

Once the re­port was sub­mit­ted, the na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter said, the nec­es­sary rec­om­men­da­tions would be made, and ac­tions taken. “We just want to make sure that the public knows we are still very in­ter­ested in this mat­ter but we can­not rush to justice,” he said. “We must wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions to be com­pleted.”

Shortly af­ter Fran­cis’s pre­sen­ta­tion, Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet, also speak­ing on the oc­ca­sion, was asked by re­porters how much sup­port gov­ern­ment was pro­vid­ing to vic­tims in the af­ter­math.

“We’ve had a lot of dis­cus­sions,” he said. “Long dis­cus­sions in terms of how do we do that. NEMO is be­ing asked, and con­tin­ues to be asked, to do an as­sess­ment of the area. There was an im­me­di­ate re­sponse in which we helped fam­i­lies. You may rec­og­nize that with­out any com­mit­ments of any funds what­so­ever, we flew peo­ple to Mar­tinique and we took on that over­all obli­ga­tion. Some peo­ple have in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, and also we’re hop­ing that the de­vel­oper him­self has in­sur­ance.”

The prime min­is­ter added: “There is a process that has to take place, and gov­ern­ment can­not be seen to be in­ter­fer­ing with that. NEMO hope­fully is iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple who don’t have in­sur­ance them­selves; my un­der­stand­ing is that there’s sup­posed to be a town coun­cil meet­ing to ad­vise them in terms of how they should be pro­cess­ing their prob­lems, so that there’s a proper record of what­ever dam­ages have taken place. We have to be able to fol­low the rule of law, but also be ex­tremely mind­ful of the stress that peo­ple have gone through. We’re ob­vi­ously there to be able to sup­port them, but at no point can gov­ern­ment act in breach of the law.”

The prime min­is­ter re­it­er­ated that progress of the case de­pends upon the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously its a very un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly when peo­ple have lost their lives, and clearly the de­ter­mi­na­tion of re­spon­si­bil­ity will de­pend heav­ily on the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Though the prime min­is­ter stressed that gov­ern­ment was tread­ing cau­tiously in deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion, he did ex­press, how­ever, that if there were any crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions, the gov­ern­ment would step in to as­sist peo­ple.

“At the end of the day our re­spon­si­bil­ity needs to be within the con­fines of the law,” Chas­tanet stated. “If you act over-zeal­ously and you’re tak­ing on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of oth­ers, then all of a sud­den it would seem it’s the State’s re­spon­si­bil­ity, so our role at this point is to make sure that peo­ple who have been im­pacted and need help right now, like those peo­ple who needed to be trans­ferred to Mar­tinique, that we were there. There’s not a lot that we can do at this point other than point peo­ple in the right di­rec­tion and as­sure them that a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is be­ing done.”

Though no time­line was given, at Mon­day’s meet­ing the is­land’s na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter gave the as­sur­ance that the mat­ter would be dealt with ex­pe­di­tiously.

Prime Min­ster Allen Chas­tanet speak­ing to the me­dia at this week’s pre-cab­i­net meet­ing.

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