When National Security Minister Hermangild 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 Martinique.
“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.