The National Petroleum Marketing Company Ltd (NP) has said it has resumed distributing fuel to key areas in rural communities, after stopping deliveries to safeguard the lives of drivers and contractors.
The company said its ability to deliver fuel to service stations in rural communities was challenged by localised flooding caused by heavy rain in recent days, which undermined roads and damaged infrastructure.
Its assessment of the potential risks, it said, meant deliveries should be temporarily halted to protect its drivers and contractors and to avert any incident that could pose risks to human life or the environment.
It said reliable transport infrastructure is paramount to its meeting its mandate for distribution. But despite the bad weather, it said less than five per cent of its network was affected, and it was only waiting for confirmation that tankers carrying liquid fuel could reach Toco.
Service stations originally affected have since received fuel supplies, it said, and and an update would be issued later.
It said an assessment had been done in collaboration with the Works and Transport Ministry’s programme for upgrading road efficiency (PURE), and it was determined that the road at Chatham was passable for NP vehicles to deliver fuel.
NP said it began exploring alternative routes on November 21 as part of its response to the recent weather. It said additionally it engaged smaller, single-discharge tanker units (operating at partial capacity owing to weight restrictions), who, together with a spotter/lorryman, would help the driver with road visibility and maintaining a clear line of sight in key areas.
NP wanted to reassure the public that it had systems in place to ensure it will continue to meet fuel distribution needs in a timely manner and ensure a reliable and continuous supply of liquid fuels, aviation fuel and LPG /cooking gas.
In a release on Sunday, Energy Minister Stuart Young said the ministry was doing everything it could to help NP to get fuel to gas stations in areas affected by flooding and landslides.
He said the safety and the security of the drivers of the tankers, which transport the fuel, came first.
“NP said that some of those roads are unsafe even for the smaller tankers,” Young said. “There is no way that I will jeopardise the lives and safety of the drivers.”
However, Young said the ministry is working with the Ministry of Works and Transport and NP to shore up roads to make them safer to drive on.
After days of rain and flooding, roads in parts of south and northeast Trinidad, such as Icacos, Cedros, Tabaquite, Flanagin, Manzanilla, Mayaro and Toco, were ruled impassable for fuel tankers.
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