Cops curtail motorcade to remember Paria divers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Kevin Lalchan, former Petrotrin employee and close friends with the members of the dive team, at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Saturday where a motorcade to remember the divers ended. – ROGER JACOB

A planned motorcade by family and friends of the four commercial divers who died in February at a Paria Fuel Trading facility from Pointe-a-Pierre to Port of Spain did not get the green light for the entire journey from the police on Saturday.

But participants said they will not be deterred in highlighting the negligence which led to the death of four men – Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr and Yusuf Henry, all employees of LMCS who perished after they were sucked into a 30-inch underwater pipeline at Berth 6.

On Saturday morning, the route for the motorcade was cut short after organiser Christopher Jackman said permission was not granted for the entire route.

He said they were disappointed because they applied within a reasonable timeframe for permission for the motorcade originally scheduled for May 1.

Jackman said they were informed by police that there was a lack of manpower for that day and was asked to push it back to May 7, and they complied.

He said a letter from Assistant Commissioner of Police for South Central only granted permission to go as far as Globe City Plaza, Chase Village from 9 am-6 pm.

“Yesterday we heard that we only had permission to go Globe City, but we applied way in advance to go Port of Spain. No issue was raised about the route before, we are only hearing about this the day before,” Jackman said.

The original planned route started at the Pointe-a-Pierre roundabout and moved along the Southern Main Road, then onto the Couva Main Road, the old Southern Main Road leading into Chaguanas, west along the Chaguanas Main until Montrose Junction. It would then proceed onto the Southern Main Road into Curepe and onto the Eastern Main Road to Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.

The revised route allowed the motorcade to start at the Pointe-a-Pierre roundabout, the Southern Main Road, the Couva Main Road, onto the old Southern Main Road and ending at Globe City in Chase Village.

Jackman said the motorcade was meant to keep the diving tragedy at the forefront of the country’s national agenda, as well as to get the answers about the failed rescue attempt.

“The issue is starting to be swept under the carpet, so we thought we’d do a small motorcade to highlight the issue and remind the public that the family is still waiting for justice on this matter. A series of motorcades are being planned,” he said.

Families and friends of Paria divers as they gathered at the start of a motorcade, at Paria’s Pointe-a-Pierre carpark on Saturday. – Marvin Hamilton

The Kurban family was present dressed in black t-shirts bearing the name Fyzal Kurban. His family did not speak with the media. Ali Jr’s immediate family was not present but some staff of LMCS was present. Henry’s relatives were to join the contingent in Port of Spain.

Jackman said while they did not get permission to take the motorcade into Port of Spain, the delegation would still meet up at Queen’s Park Savannah for a prayer session at the end

On February 25, Henry, Nagassar, Kurban and Ali Jr, who had been hired by Paria to do maintenance work by Paria were pulled into the pipeline. Their bodies were recovered over four days. Christopher Boodram, who was part of the dividing team, is the lone survivor.

Jackman said the victims’ families, including Boodram, were yet to receive any assistance from Paria that can help them cope with the tragedy.

“Vanessa, whose husband was Rishi Nagassar left behind some very young children, need school supplies and food. She is the sole breadwinner now and does not have a steady job and no one is addressing this.”

Speaking with Newsday, Vanessa Kussie said it was still unbelievable that her husband was taken from his family in such a horrific manner and their sons, one of whom is three years old, were still in shock.

“It has been quite hard, but my family has been helpful and the donation from an anonymous person was a tremendous help. But how long can they sustain us?

“The baby is always up and giving trouble. This morning was hard, I don’t know if he was dreaming about his dad. But he always gets up crying. I don’t get enough sleep.”

A Commission of Enquiry has been appointed to investigate the incident and the commissioners – former head of Jamaica’s Appeal Court and chair of the CoE Justice Cecil Dennis Morrison, and subsea specialist Gregory Wilson –were sworn in on April 22. They have been given six months to submit their findings from the start of the public hearings.

Jackman said they were hopeful that CoE would shed some light on the circumstances surrounding the men’s death and was hopeful that recommendations coming from it would prevent another tragedy.

“I believe the process will be a very long and drawn-out process but if it is a way for us to find out the truth, then we are open to it. I think all the families want right now are answers to what happened and for somebody to do something to cater to their needs that came about from the death of their family members.”