Paria commissioners to be sworn in this week

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Colm Imbert –

Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert has said the two members of the commission of enquiry into the February 25 Paria Fuel Trading Ltd drownings should be sworn in by or before Friday.

Responding to Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament on Wednesday, Imbert said commissioners Justice Dennis Morrison, QC, and Gregory Wilson will meet with counsel to the commission Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and his team.

“The terms of reference for the enquiry have been settled and will be published shortly. The conduct of the enquiry will be the sole responsibility of the commissioners, and I expect them to begin as soon as possible and with dispatch.”

Responding to questions from Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, Imbert said there will be two commissioners, with a specialised firm of experts acting as an independent consultant to the commission, rather than a third appointment being made.

“The firm has not yet been procured, but a search would be done using best practice to acquire a firm that has the necessary specialist expertise.”

Imbert said the government would be advised by the commissioners and others with respect to providing legal representation to the families of the divers before the commission begins.

“I would not want to make a premature statement on that at this time.”

The bodies of Yusuf Henry, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban, and Rishi Nagassar were retrieved on February 28 and March 1 after they went to do maintenance work on a pipeline at Pointe-a-Pierre and were sucked in. Christopher Boodram was the only survivor.

The sub-contractor LMCS, for which they worked, urged more rescue attempts, but Paria said a multi-agency team of experts on the scene had warned against putting more lives at risk.

Soon after the incident, government announced a five-person committee to investigate and report within 45 days. The Prime Minister revised this plan when the Opposition raised questions about the relationship between the team members appointed and the government.

On March 10 government announced a commission of enquiry, consisting of Morrison, former head of Jamaica’s Appeal Court Justice, as chairman, and Wilson, a local subsea specialist.