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.