T&T energy minister under fire after confrontation with constituents

Nicole Olivierre Minister of Energy and La Brea MP, speaks to residents of La Brea on Coffee Beach during her visit on Tuesday.

(Trinidad Guardian) Calls were being made yesterday for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to fire his Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre after a video of her losing her cool with protesting constituents of La Brea went viral on social media. However, others have applauded her decision to stand her ground.

By late evening, the video was viewed over 62,000 times. Olivierre last night defended her action and the Prime Minister’s right to chose his team.

“I did not lose my cool. I think you sometimes need to speak to people in a language they would understand because this protest action has been really becoming out of hand.”

During an interview marking his administration’s anniversary in office, Rowley said that he intended to make adjustments to his Cabinet.

Asked if this public outburst could influence the PM’s decision as he contemplates his Cabinet reshuffle, Olivierre said: “Whatever his decision, I would not even try to hazard a guess as to what he would or would not do. He is sure to chose his team as he sees fit.”

It was on Tuesday, following a visit to oil-stained Coffee Beach, La Brea, in the constituency she serves as Member of Parliament, that the confrontation between her and protesting constituents, some with placards outside her office, was recorded on a cellphone and posted on Facebook.

In a loud voice, Olivierre could be heard telling her constituents how unreasonable they were being approaching her to seek compensation on their behalf for loss of sales.

“This is never done anywhere else. This is madness,” she said.

One woman took issue with her tone, saying: “Ministers don’t talk to people like that.” She was also criticised by some of the constituents in the video, a lot of which is inaudible, for poor representation, while others resorted to calling her names, like “warahoo and lagahoo.”

Olivierre stood her ground, saying she has stood up for them and made representation to have this long-standing problem of having poor roads fixed.

In an interview yesterday, Olivierre said the people who were making the case for compensation were the same people who protested for improved roads one year ago and the same people who stopped the multi-million project on Monday because reduced traffic had resulted in a loss of their sales.

“While we empathise with the residents as the constituency has been neglected for so long and there is a high level of unemployment in the area, this unnecessary disruption to the Government’s efforts at resolving a long-standing issue cannot be tolerated,” Olivierre said.

“That is incredible. You complain about the road being in a deplorable condition and now that it is being repaired, I can’t comprehend why you would even contemplate seeking compensation for the loss of sales when we are doing the infrastructural work to improve the conditions under which you sell. And why delay the progress on the road any further?” she asked.

She drew the analogy: “it is like fixing your own home and want somebody else to compensate you for the inconvenience.”

Asked if she had any plans to meet again with the residents, Olivierre said all of their other issues had already been addressed.

“The remaining issue was compensation, which is not under consideration,” she added.

Around the Web