QUARRY WORK­ERS IN LIMBO?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Over the past few months many state­ments have been made re­gard­ing the re­lease of the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port re­lat­ing to the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent at the Rayneau Ga­jad­har (RG) Group of Com­pa­nies quarry on March 21, 2017. Four lives were claimed with sev­eral other em­ploy­ees suf­fer­ing in­juries as a re­sult of the blast. Some vic­tims have made public com­plaints while oth­ers have re­mained silent con­cern­ing the progress of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, com­pen­sa­tion and the re­lease of the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port.

At a pre-cabi­net meet­ing on Mon­day Au­gust 8, 2017, Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet as­sured that the gov­ern­ment is keep­ing a watch­ful eye over in­sur­ance com­pa­nies that are mak­ing a mean­ing­ful ef­fort to com­pen­sate vic­tims. Chas­tanet also men­tioned mak­ing a lawyer avail­able to the peo­ple of the com­mu­nity in Fer­rands, Cul-de-Sac to pro­vide le­gal guid­ance. Then he noted that

the po­lice and De­vel­op­ment Con­trol Author­ity would pro­vide ad­vice as to the pos­si­ble amend­ment of our Ex­plo­sives Act.

When me­dia last in­quired about the sta­tus of the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port in June 2017, Chas­tanet made known his dis­ap­point­ment con­cern­ing the slow speed of its progress. He promised that the gov­ern­ment was not wast­ing time on its part. This week he ex­pressed sim­i­lar thoughts: “I’m still dis­ap­pointed that things didn’t move fast enough to fa­cil­i­tate peo­ple as much as pos­si­ble.”

Se­na­tor Her­mangild Fran­cis, Min­is­ter for Na­tional Se­cu­rity, en­thu­si­as­ti­cally promised Saint Lu­cia on April 18, 2017: “We just want to make sure that the public knows we are still very in­ter­ested in this mat­ter but we can­not rush to jus­tice. We must wait for the in­ves­ti­ga­tions to be com­pleted.”

By June 12, 2017 the min­is­ter had con­firmed that the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port was com­plete and had been de­liv­ered to Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions, Daarsrean Greene. How­ever, with the re­port still not hav­ing been re­leased, pa­tience is run­ning short for many, in­clud­ing work­ers at the quarry who are con­cerned that they may soon be un­em­ployed. On many news items this week, em­ploy­ees, such as Robert Robert and Fernil Ed­ward, ex­pressed their frus­tra­tion.

Rayneau Ga­jad­har has not been per­mit­ted a li­cense to blast on site or to pos­sess ex­plo­sives since the in­ci­dent oc­curred in March. Rock blast­ing is the most im­por­tant pro­ce­dure in a quarry busi­ness as it cre­ates ma­te­rial to be sold, re­fined or used to create other prod­ucts. Since blast­ing has ceased, worry also ex­tends to peo­ple in­di­rectly em­ployed by the com­pany and cus­tomers who would now have to source ma­te­ri­als else­where.

But, Rayneau’s work­ers sym­pa­thize with him, un­der­stand­ing that he has paid them over the past few months with no in­come from the quarry. One em­ployee in­formed the

STAR, “I’ve been work­ing with Rayneau for a long time and al­though he has tried to keep us em­ployed, who can blame the man if he lets us go? There’s no money com­ing in.” But he was equally wor­ried for him­self: “I have been look­ing else­where but there’s hun­dreds of us. What’s go­ing to hap­pen?”

“This re­port is tak­ing too long!” he added. “I was there when it hap­pened and it’s sad that peo­ple I knew died. Other peo­ple are suf­fer­ing but it’s go­ing to be worse if Rayneau doesn’t get a li­cense soon and so many of us end up out of work.”

An­other young man ac­com­pa­ny­ing him was re­luc­tant to let the STAR know that the com­pany had called him to re­turn to the site. He was hes­i­tant be­cause of the un­cer­tainty of the quarry re­main­ing op­er­a­tional.

While the public awaits re­lease of the re­port, it re­mains un­clear how long the RG Group of Com­pa­nies will re­main with­out an ex­plo­sives li­cense.

DPP Greene was un­able to com­ment about the re­port this week but has promised to speak on the is­sue next week.

No blast­ing means no work!

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