Energy Minister Nicole Olivierre says all but one of the 137 service stations in this country are operating illegally and the state will give operators of these businesses six months to regularise their status.
Speaking at yesterday's official opening of the NP St Christopher's Service Station on Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, the minister said the situation was one for serious concern.
"For the past five years service stations have been allowed to operate without valid retail marketing licences. Right now as I stand here, I can say without fear or contradiction that of the 137 service stations currently operating in T&T, this St Christopher Taxi Cab Co-Operative Service Station is the only one that is operating with a valid retail marketing licence," she said.
"The fact that all of other service stations are operating without a licence is an untenable situation which has been allowed to continue for far too long. Today's ceremony signals that the situation will persist no more. This government has begun to bring to an end this undesirable and unsafe state of affairs. As minister, I will ensure that this sector operates according to the clearly defined rules and regulations which are applicable to all."
Olivierre said before the approval given recently to the NP St Christopher Service Station, the last time a licence–which has a life of one year–was issued to a local service station was in February 2010 under the Patrick Manning-led PNM government.
"The ministry is aggressively seeking to bring all service stations under the regulations and is working with the individual service station owners, and the operators NP and Petrotrin, as well as, the petroleum dealers association to ensure full compliance," she said.
"The Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries has given careful consideration to our role in the management and regulation of the petroleum sector. The umbrella legislation governing the petroleum sector is the Petroleum Act 1969 Chapter 62:01. The regulations which govern petroleum operations were developed under Section 29 of the Act and provide for inter alia the granting of a marketing licence with respect of the conduct of retail transactions at petro filled stations."