Two Years Later: Divers’ Families Still want Board Fired

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Caption: Relatives of the four divers and Pointe-a-Pierre MP David Lee at Paria headquarters

By Prior Beharry

EXACTLY two years to the day when four divers disappeared in an underwater pipeline and subsequently died, their families are calling for the board of Paria Fuel Trading Company to resign or be fired.

Relatives of Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuff Henry and Christopher Boodram staged a demonstration outside the gate of Paria’s headquarters in Pointe-a-Pierre on Thursday morning.

Joining them were members of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) and MP for Pointe-a-Pierre David Lee.

Lee said, “This is not a protest, this is more of an awareness where we are calling for compensation for the families and we are asking for the removal of the board members, the chairman Newman George and the top management who was part of that command centre when that disaster took place.

“We have left a message for Paria’s manager that we are looking for compensation for the families.”

Divers Boodram, Kurban, Nagassar, Henry and Kazim Ali Jr, all working for contractor LMCS, were sucked into the pipeline because of a Delta P condition. Only Boodram made it out while the bodies of the others were retrieved days later. They were cleaning a sealine owned by Paria who hired LMCS.

Last Friday, the findings of the Commission of Enquiry report into the tragedy was laid in Parliament. It was headed by Chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, and subsea specialist Gregory Wilson.

The commission recommended that Paria be charged with manslaughter.

Lynch said, “There is not a strong enough case to recommend the prosecution of any one individual, however, the law permits a corporation to be charged with manslaughter.”

Speaking at a press conference on the issue on Thursday, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh said in any other jurisdiction, the board of Paria would have been sent packing.

“If they had any decency and any iota of integrity based on the contents of this report they would have tendered their resignations with immediate effect.”

He said in addition he wanted to know if the contracts of some the Paria employees, who were on the scene of the incident two years ago and prevented a rescue operation from taking place, were renewed.

Indarsingh said these employees were Paria’s Terminal Manager Collin Piper, General Manager Mushtaq Mohammed, Technical Lead Catherine Balkissoon, Technical Maintenance Manager Michael Wei, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Coordinator Paul Yearwood and HSE Manager Randolph Archibald.

Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh. Photo: T&T Parliament

He also called the names of the Paria board members – chairman Newman George, Fayad Ali, Avie Chadee, Peter Clarke, Eustace Nancis and Reza Salim.

On Monday, attorney Prakash Ramadhar said an ex-gratia payment of $5 million should be paid to each family for all of the losses they would have faced due to the incident on February 25, 2022.

He said the lone survivor Boodram should also be compensated.

Attorney Prakash Ramadhar

At another press conference also on Monday, OWTU President Ancil Roget said that the Paria board should not only be fired but stricter action should be taken against them.

Ancel Roget

He said, “All who were involved and identified in the report, who were involved in the rescue effort and as a result of their failure we are now discussing this today. We call for handcuffs to be placed on all of them and let them make a jail.”

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