None Willing to Dive into Horizonal Section Claims Paria Official

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

NO ONE, not even divers from LMCS were willing to dive into the horizontal section of the pipeline to rescue Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Kazim Ali Jr who all died last year while working on facilities belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd.

Head of Paria’s Health Safety Environment and Quality (HSEQ) Randolph Archibald testified at the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) on Thursday that even after equipment and commercial divers arrived at the site at Berth #6, the decision still remained to not have any further diving into the pipe.

According to his witness statement, he said, “I believe it was unsafe to dive within the pipe at the time without a continuous air supply with a tank and a tether.”

A means of communication was also needed and those items he listed did eventually arrive at the site on the night of February 25, 2022.

Attorney for the CoE Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, asked if the rescue plan was revised after equipment arrived at the site to which Archibald said no.

CoE’s chairman Jerome Lynch, KC asked, “Once that equipment which you described yourself as being the sort of minimum level in order to make it safe, once that had arrived, what were you saying in the IMT? Equipment is here, we got the divers, why don’t we do it?”

Archibald responded, “We did not have divers that were willing to traverse the horizontal portion.”

Lynch asked if that was correct and Archibald said as far as he was aware, although commercial divers were present, they were unwilling to go that length of the pipe.

Archibald said, “We had no time after the first dive where they reached up to ten feet, at no time after that did any of the divers come with any plan. We were not able to get any plan from them to go into the horizontal portion of the line.”

When asked if he was aware that there were divers willing to enter the pipe to rescue the men, he said, “I think they would have been willing to go down to the end. I think that was safe enough, I think they believed it was safe enough but to start traversing the horizontal portion, it seemed to me that none were willing to come forward.”

He made that assumption based on feedback from Paria’s Acting Technical Lead Catherine Balkissoon who was the main communicator on the berth on February 25, 2022.

Archibald said no dive plan was relayed to him and neither were the divers asked for a dive plan.

“Why not?” Lynch asked.

Archibald said, “When the incident occurred, the automatic trigger was for LMCS to initiate our emergency response. That was accepted. That is what Kazim was doing or leading. We arranged for as much resources as possible to facilitate their diving and when after that first dive by Michael Kurban there was no effort coming forward at that point in time.”


Lynch asked what the difference with either Kurban or another person going into the pipe once equipment arrived.

Archibald said he was not aware that Kurban went into the pipe until afterwards and he had only travelled 10 feet.

He said the effort was then to go much further in.

“I don’t know what the divers were thinking. What I do know is that none came forward to say I am going to dive. At least that is the evidence we have,” Archibald said.

Lynch asked, “That’s really the position, no-one said I am willing to dive into that pipe?”

He responded, “That’s correct.”

Lynch further asked, “Including Mr Kurban? Mr Farrah, Mr Beddoe? And his brother? None of those people said I am willing to dive into that pipe.”

“On that night as far as we are aware,” Archibald said.

Maharaj also asked that the IMT could have asked LMCS divers to do the dive if they were willing to which Archibald agreed to.

He then read a transcript from Balkissoon’s oral evidence last year which stated that Andrew Farrah asked more than one if they would be allowed to dive into the pipe but instructions were given to “stand up.”

Archibald said he was not aware of all the details.

Maharaj then said, “You would  agree with me that the IMT did not have any discussions with the divers  who were prepared to go into the pipe with all the commercial equipment they have to ask them or to point out to them  or to find out whether they would want to go into the horizontal section or not if they had any objection of going into the horizontal section.”

“I don’t know if they were prepared to go into the horizontal section,” Archibald said. 

He said the IMT sought to communicate with LMCS representatives who would have been either Andrew Farrah or Kazim Ali, Sr.


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