Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon. – File photo
MINISTER of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon declined to answer two questions on the state of the local diving industry in the Senate on Tuesday.
She said this would be inappropriate ahead of the pending commission of enquiry (CoE) into the drowning deaths of four divers, on February 25, at a Pointe-a-Pierre facility owned by Paria Fuel Trading Company.
Five men – Christopher Boodram, Kazim Ali, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagassar – were working on a 30-inch pipeline but were sucked in, with only Boodram surviving. Relatives of the men complained of not being allowed to try to rescue the remaining four, but with Paria later experts on site had warned that was too risky.
Independent Senator Charrise Seepersad raised the matter in two listed questions.
She firstly asked when would the Bureau of Standards develop new standards for commercial divers, in light of public calls to do so.
Gopee-Scoon replied, “In view of the establishment of a commission of enquiry to investigate the circumstances that led to the deaths of four divers, contracted by LMCS Ltd to conduct pipeline maintenance for Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd, it is not considered appropriate to answer this question at this time.
“The commission of enquiry’s terms of reference are broad and comprehensive and may include an examination of these issues and, as such, the commission should be allowed to do its work free of interference.”
Seepersad asked: “Will the standards include the setting up of monitoring, evaluation and audit functions in the diving companies that will allow them to verify divers’ certification, integrity of equipment, etcetera, and review the risk assessment of each dive operation?” Kangaloo disallowed the question saying it did not arise based on the response to the initial question.
Independent Senator Paul Richards, in a supplemental, asked if the Government has reviewed standards amid ongoing diving works, but Gopee-Scoon said it was inappropriate for her to comment on that.
In a second listed question, Seepersad asked if the Government would bring new legislation to create a regulatory body for the diving industry, but Gopee-Scoon repeated her answer to the first question.