Thursday 26 November, 2020

AMCHAM T&T President: Nabarima catastrophe must be averted

AMCHAM T&T President Patricia Ghany said the potential environmental disaster posed by the listing oil storage vessel, the FSO Nabarima, must be averted.

Speaking at AMCHAM T&T’s 24th Annual HSSE Conference & Exhibition, Ghany said should the vessel, which was said to be at capacity with approximately 1.3 million barrels of oil, sink, the environmental damage to Trinidad and Tobago would be catastrophic. 

'On the environment front, we are facing an imminent environmental disaster of gargantuan proportions in the form of the Nabarima. That floating offshore storage vessel needs to be offloaded. What happens to the oil after, can be worked out but we believe our Government should use every available avenue -including international pressure if necessary – to ensure that the Venezuelan Government and the Italian company ENI, offload the oil and stabilise the Nabarima to protect our environment.'

Ghany said many CARICOM nations would be affected: 

'Should a spill occur if the vessel were to sink, the environments of several countries including T&T, Guyana, Suriname and possibly some of the OECS countries would be in grave danger. The effects will be felt for decades and even maritime traffic would be affected. We simply cannot allow this to happen. Our Government must act and let the country – indeed the international community – know what is being done and by when to avert this potential environmental catastrophe.'

Ghany: Businesses must build back better

Ghany said on the COVID-19 front, businesses must now 'build back better' in order to recover:

'How can we adapt to a new normal that is characterized by many as uncertain and highly disruptive? Answering this question reminds me of the ancient proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The next best time is right now”. In other words, we must immediately plant the seeds for short, medium and long-term survival, TODAY, to achieve growth and success. But to do this, will require a strong measure of RESILIENCE in our efforts to move past this pandemic.

'The business community is doing its part. Companies large and small are donating devices for online school; assisting with food care packages and supporting employees in this difficult time. For true resilience, we need a strong and enabled private sector. That’s why this year, I want to focus on a few specific issues rather than the traditional, more generic focus on HSSE.'

'What I would say to my private sector colleagues is that now is not the time to cut back on training or HSE. Remember to ask yourself whether the cost of not training outweighs the cost of having an untrained or undertrained employee in the role. I think we all know the answer. And as an absolute rule – we either do it safely or not at all.'

'Switching back to my other points, for businesses to be able to bounce back or at least start planning for a recovery, we require predictability. Therefore, it is our view that restrictions to curtail business and individual activity should be linked to specific triggers. This should be clearly communicated in advance and of course, based on science.'

She said health and safety measures are now paramount:

'Measures like mask wearing, social distancing and no mass gatherings will obviously have to remain in effect until a vaccine is developed and administered to the majority of the population. Individuals will have to take much of the responsibility for ensuring that cases don’t spread through their actions, but continued uncertainty and apparent arbitrary measures are counter-productive.'

She added that the perspective must be an inclusive one:

'The final point I will make, is one with which you all are very familiar as safety professionals and leaders. It’s a point about culture and collaboration. For our country to be resilient; to be able to build back stronger, we need a more inclusive, more collaborative culture.'

'We face many challenges, and many sacrifices will have to be made. The burden will have to be shared, for sure.'

'But who sacrifices what and why?  What is our end goal? Where are we going and how will we know if we’re getting closer to that destination?

Some clear milestones and both short and long term objectives in the context of an overall plan are required. Simultaneously we need meaningful engagement with stakeholders. And stakeholders will sometimes have suggestions that are not apparently supportive of the measures being implemented.'

'What is needed now, therefore, is collaboration, dialogue and meaningful engagement. With that, we can build back better. Build back stronger. And together, we will create a better, brighter future for our country.'

The conference, which takes place online from October 19-23, also featured statements from Atlantic CEO Dr Philip Mshelbila, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, and AMCHAM T&T CEO Nirad Tewarie. 

For more updates on the conference visit

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: