Paria divers’ relatives, OWTU comforted by DPP’s meeting

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Relatives of the four Paria divers who died in a pipeline in 2022 join trade unions for the Labour Day march, Avocat Junction, Fyzabad on June 19, 2023. Relatives and OWTU officials met with the Director of Public Prosecutions on February 9, 2024. File photo by Angelo Marcelle –

The Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) branch president and the families of the divers involved in the 2022 Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd incident feel comforted after they met with Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard on Friday.

Branch president Christopher Jackman told Newsday on Saturday, they visited Gaspard’s office in Port of Spain on Friday to deliver a letter requesting consistent communication on his progress into the recommendations of the Jerome Lynch commission of enquiry into the incident, and clarification of the way forward with the matter.

On arrival, he said, the DPP invited four representatives to meet directly with him to resolve any concerns face-to-face. Jackman, a family member, a member of the First Wave Movement and another member of the OWTU attended the meeting.

“This is the first time that we’ve seen a member of public office actually come out and have a consultation with respect to us, the families, to make sure that we understand what is taking place. For all the time we’ve done it at Heritage, all the appeals we’ve made to the government, we received no action so far. We have to commend him for that and that alone. I can tell you the family members were quite…comforted by the way he dealt with them on that particular day.”

Mason Hall student Oshea Cummings –

He said the DPP explained his remit in the matter and the role the commission of enquiry’s report will play in any substantive legal matter that may arise.

One of the major findings of the report is that Paria was negligent and should be charged with corporate manslaughter. While the DPP is yet to make an affirmative position on this recommendation, Jackman said Gaspard said such charges will not go to individuals but rather the company.

“We were all very much disappointed by the conclusion he made with respect to the charge being applied to Paria and not directed towards individuals, because from what we see, if Paria is charged it is the taxpayer who will be held liable to fund any fee or payment that has to be made. And the way the current government is moving, I could see the company being charged and still not removing the people in charge there. Because they seem to be adamant not to remove them under no circumstances, even if they are proven guilty of wrong doing, which we are seeing in the commission of inquiry report.”

He said the DPP also assured the union he would keep in communication with them as he moves forward with his work now that the report is in his hands.

On February 25, 2022, five Land and Marine Construction Services divers, Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jnr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Christopher Boodram were sucked into a 30-inch pipeline at Berth No 6 at Pointe-a-Pierre during a delta P incident. Boodram is the only survivor.