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SVG accepts offer from Grenada to assist Union Island with fuel

SVG accepts offer from Grenada  to assist Union Island with fuel
(Left) Dr Ralph Gonsalves and (Right) Dr Keith Michell

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St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) will accept neighbouring Grenada’s offer to assist residents of Union Island with refueling in the wake of the explosion and destruction of that island’s only gas station.

The UniGas gas station located in Clifton, Union Island, owned and operated by Freddy Naert, 72 years, exploded on the night of Tuesday, May 19, engulfing Naert’s, as well as a nearby property, in flames.

The proprietor, and 12-year-old Lindini Neverson have since succumbed to injuries that they received in the inferno, while Shaniqua “Azaria” Alexander, 17 years, is receiving treatment for her serious burns in Trinidad.

Following the catastrophe, the Grenadian Government, which is led by Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, issued a release dated May 24, titled “Grenada offers help to residents of Union Island in the wake of gas station fire.”

The release, which also offered condolences on behalf of the Grenadian Government following the death caused by the incident, revealed that an offer of refueling assistance had been made by the Grenadian Government, to the Director of Grenadines’ affairs in SVG.

“Carriacou is located just eight miles south of Union Island, and like the rest of the tri- island state, borders were closed on March 23, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the release outlined.

It continued that, pending acceptance of the offer by the SVG Government, Grenada intends for refueling support for citizens of Union Island to be done between 8 am and 6 pm daily.

“The Grenada Government recognizes the importance of being our brother’s keeper which it considers to be even more important during this period. However, it also recognizes that due process must be followed,” the release outlined.

The Grenadian government noted that during the time of COVID-19 public health and safety “remain a priority” and therefore all recommended protocols will be “duly enforced” while assistance is being given.

“The relevant authorities will determine the recommended protocols under which the proposed refueling assistance will take place and steps will be taken to ensure full compliance,” the Grenada Government noted.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking yesterday May 25, has indicated that SVG will accept Grenada’s offer.

“I should write Prime Minister Mitchell, to say to him that we’d accept this offer and actually we’d do it in an organised and structured way,” Gonsalves relayed.

He indicated that he does not like persons travelling to Canouan for the purpose of refueling.

“There are two things there: the journey to Canouan is a long journey, and secondly in what condition are you bringing the fuel? I don’t want you to be bringing the fuel and we have an accident at sea…God forbid, where persons also get burnt,” Gonsalves revealed.

He commented that there are security and environmental issues there.

In speaking, Prime Minister Gonsalves referred to a letter that he penned to Prime Minister Mitchell last month, surrounding a separate issue concerning persons travelling between Carriacou and Petite Martinique (part of the Grenada Grenadines) and Union Island to stock up on cooking gas and food supplies despite Grenada closing its borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There had been an exchange between the two Prime Ministers, which ended in Gonsalves explaining in a letter that his offer to help the residents of Carriacou and Petit Martinique if they need food and cooking gas was genuine and helpful and not ‘grossly irresponsible’ as had been described by Mitchell.

Gonsalves recalled that he had indicated in the letter “that all we (SVG) are trying to do is to help in some organized and structured way, and that I will… that I’m sure that if the shoe was on the other foot, Grenada will be helping…”

“…Now we have a problem there (Union Island) and Petit Martinique is nearby, certainly closer than Canouan, so that we can get something worked out, but we have to do it properly,” Gonsalves continued yesterday, while speaking on radio.

The Prime Minister also informed that business persons on Union Island will be immediately engaged to see who may wish to work with any of the fuel distribution companies, along with Government help in facilitating and “putting things together,” in relation to the provision of fuel.

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