Eight people are now without employment amid another closure and change of management facing the PETCOM Gas Station in the rural community of Lluidas Vale, St Catherine.
The current operator, Sydney Rose, who also is Councillor for Treadways Division in the Linstead area of St Catherine, told The Beacon that he is giving up the operation.
He cited security reasons linked to two robberies that took place recently – not at Lluidas Vale, but at a cooking gas business he operates at 118 King Street in Linstead, St Catherine.
“They robbed the business [in Linstead] twice in 12 weeks; the last one was on the 28th of June,” Rose said, adding that the losses amount to millions of dollars.
He said the robberies were done by three masked gunmen, and that a purse that was stolen on the latter occasion was found in the Banbury area in Linstead.
Prior to those two recent incidents, gunmen, in November 2019, reportedly held up and robbed one of Rose’s employees of a company truck and cooking gas, which both valued at $4 million. That incident happened at Savannah in Wakefield, Linstead.
Rose now tells The Beacon: “I can’t withstand those losses anymore. As a result of robbery and my personal security, I have to adjust. I am scaling back [by closing PETCOM in Lluidas Vale] and looking at other options.”
Rose, who thinks he may be targeted by criminals, also reasoned that the road he has to travel to the business in Lluidas Vale is too lonely and may provide certain opportunities for criminals.
“The gas station needs constant attention,” he said, underscoring the importance of him being at the location frequently.
Residents had complained that, on different occasions before the eventual closure, there was no petrol at the gas station.
Rose insisted that the closure is not linked to any financial issue that may be exclusively connected to the gas station.
He added that he is not being pushed by PETCOM, whose lawyer he said he met yesterday to discuss the way forward as part of the winding up. The Lluidas Vale property is owned by PETCOM.
“PETCOM naah tek mi out,” Rose said. “I still sell cooking gas for PETCOM [from my location in Linstead].”
Rose assumed operation of the petrol station late last year after attorney-at-law and businessman Sean Kinghorn relinquished it contentiously. A restaurant built controversially on the property under Kinghorn’s tenure was also closed last year and is yet to reopen.
Prior to Kinghorn, the business was in the hands of politician and businessman Hugh Graham. He was made to let the company go during a public spectacle in January 2019.
The gas station was first operated by late Councillor for Lluidas Vale Division Glenmore McLean. Between McLean’s death and Graham’s stint as lessee, the property was managed by other persons.
The gas station is developing a reputation as a loss-making entity. The restaurant built on the same property was said to be giving the petrol station a boost, but it’s closure remains as indefinite as that of the petrol station.
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