ALL vehicles operated by National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP) are safe for drivers and the company maintains strict Covid-19 protocols.
This is according to NP in a response to claims made by the Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) that employees had to use vehicles with a faulted brake system which could cause potential harm to driver and others.
The union at a press conference also claimed that there were not enough health and safety protocols in place to protect employees against the virus and also called on the transport commissioner to properly inspect vehicles used by contractors on behalf of the company.
In a press release on Wednesday, state-owned NP gave details about its fleet adding that its size was to be increased by 20 per cent although demand has fallen.
NP stated, “As it relates to the alleged faulty braking system on the RTW (Road Tank Wagons) units, the Company wishes to assure the public that the operation of the RTWs does not in any way pose an unnecessary safety risk to the lives of the workers or the public at large.
“The Company categorically denies that there is any condition on the RTW Fleet brakes that amounts to a breach of section 6 (1) or 2 (b) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 2004 or of Article 29(2) of the applicable Collective Agreements.”
NP stated, “The tractors are equipped with four main braking systems, in which the service brake performs the primary function of stopping the vehicle when the footbrake is depressed. The secondary brake system comes into effect in the event of failure of the service brake and is a failsafe system that is activated when the air pressure is insufficient in the unit. The four main braking systems which the RTW units possess, is sufficient to ensure that the vehicle is able to adequately brake when/as required.”
Additionally, as a means of further safety measures, NP began the process of installing a circuit on the already inspected and fully functional RTW units on Monday and that process was completed the following day.
NP stated that its fleet was a combination of company and independent contractor fleet. NP supplements its fleet with contractor-operated RTWs to service particular service station sites to ensure the continuity of supply on a daily basis throughout Trinidad. Although the cost of an NP-operated RTW exceeds the cost of contractor haulage per litre, records confirm that the current split for deliveries to service stations is 54:46, in favor of NP-operated RTWs, a progressive improvement over the past few years, a verifiable fact that was shared with the OWTU’s executive as recently on September 18.
NP added that its drivers currently work a minimum of 40 hours per week.
“As the union is aware, the company is in the process of increasing the size of its fleet by 20 per cent despite the fact that demand has fallen. As it stands, there are five units and six drivers at NP Point-A-Pierre, with the operations typically running six days per week. As part of NP’s fleet/driver management process, drivers are assigned /rostered to work for a period of five days and subsequently scheduled an off day on the sixth day, to ensure that they are adequately rested. Therefore, the sixth driver essentially acts as a reserve resource, to fill in on the other drivers’ off days, while also supplementing any unplanned absences, to ensure the continuity of operations.”
All Covid-19 protocols were in place including daily truck sanitisation with a weekly scheduled deep cleaning.
NP added, “The ongoing successful implementation of these measures requires the cooperation of each employee to ensure theirs, and as well as, the safety and well-being of their colleagues. In instances where legitimate concerns are raised, it is the company’s demonstrated policy to take swift and appropriate action to address any proven issues, upon completion of the necessary investigations.”