Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Guyanese businessman distances himself and company from oil spill in Tobago

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2024 | 7:22 PM
Workers cleaning up oil spill in Tobago. - CMC photo

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The chief executive officer of the Guyana-based Queensway Group Inc, Mohamed Qualander, has denied any involvement in the oil spill that has been impacting the neighbouring island of  Trinidad and Tobago.

In a statement, Qualander said that he has noted with “great concern”  a message posted on social media making the claim “that a vessel carrying fuel that capsized off the coast of Trinidad & Tobago belongs to Mohamed Qualander also known as 'Arafat'.

“I wish to state that I have never owned any fuel boat and I have never been involved in the trading of fuel in Guyana or anywhere else in the world and that I have absolutely no knowledge of or relationship with the vessel mentioned in the Facebook post.”

Qualander said as a result of the post, “I have received calls from friends, family members and business partners, both local and international who have expressed concern and dismay at the article and its insinuations”

He said that the Facebook post has been reported to the Cyber Crimes unit of the Guyana Police Force.

Meanwhile, the Trinidad and Tobago government has announced that it is partnering with international experts to remove the wreckage of a barge responsible for the oil spill in the waters of Tobago.

The Ministry of Energy said that the Texas-based company, T&T Salvage and QT Environmental, of Minnesota, will work with local officials to also clean up the spill.

The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) has confirmed that at least two vessels were involved in the oil spill incident.

In a statement, the Ministry of National Security said that even as investigations are continuing, video footage and other information, obtained by the TTCG, have confirmed that the two vessels are a tugboat and a barge.

It said the TTCG is collaborating with other local and regional agencies, including the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the Guyana Coast Guard (GCG), the Maritime Services Division, and IR Consilium, through consultant Dr Ian Ralby, to identify the vessels and their owners.

“Investigations have thus far revealed that the vessels appear to have been bound for Guyana.

However, the Guyanese authorities have confirmed that neither vessel arrived as anticipated.

“At this stage, it is not known whether any lives have been lost in the incident,” the ministry said, adding that in recent days, a spill of black, oily deposits was identified in the waters spreading from the Scarborough area to Lowlands in Tobago, posing a serious threat to Tobago's biodiversity.

It said that the spill appeared to be emanating from a wrecked barge, which was discovered lodged on a reef in the vicinity.

The TTCG said it is also examining video footage supplied by the GCG of the barge, as it appeared to be sinking and that it is using certain distinctive markings of the barge, to confirm its identity.

The TTCG said it has also confirmed that the barge was being towed by a tug, the Solo Creed, from Panama, destined for Guyana. Satellite imagery also shows the Solo Creed towing an object on February 4, this year.

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