Paria divers to be remembered two years after tragic deaths

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The five divers involved in a fatal incident at a Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd platform on February 25, 2022. From left, Christopher Boodram, who survived, Kazim Ali, Yuseph Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban. –

AS the second anniversary of the Paria divers’ tragedy approaches, a stand for justice will be mounted on Saturday morning in remembrance of those who perished.

The Paria Platform – A Call for Justice, will take the form of a procession, beginning near the Couva Magistrate’s Court at 8.30 am and, ending at the Couva South Grounds, Camden Road.

A rally will be held on the grounds where a platform has been created to discuss critical concerns still surrounding the tragedy, including the lack of compensation for the survivors of the dead divers.

Among those slated to speak are lone survivor Christopher Boodram, who was injured and has not worked, since his friends, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, Kazim Ali Jr and Rishi Nagassar perished in an undersea pipeline.

Boodram and the other divers were employed with Land and Marine Contracting Services Ltd (LMCS) owned by Kazim Ali Sr, were contracted by Paria Fuel Trading Company to carry out subsea maintenance on Paria’s Sealine No 36 at Berth No 6 in the Pointe-a-Pierre harbour.

Couva South MP, Rudranath Indarsingh, one of the organisers of Saturday’s event said, “Is a walk for justice in the name of poor management, lack of worker’s protection and apathetic interests in the lives of the working class.

“It is named after the company where the victims of the tragedy were employed and met their preventable end, but also to provide a platform for transformative justice for the families of the divers.”

The report of the commission of enquiry (CoE) into the February 25, 2022 incident recommended corporate manslaughter charges be laid against some of the parties involved.

The report has been handed over to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard who promised surviving relatives and representatives of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) at a brief meeting, two weeks ago, that he was not limited to the scope of the CoE.

The OWTU’s Christopher Jackman said that at the meeting, the DPP said he had the ability to go beyond the CoE’s recommendations to determine who else was culpable.

Jackman said he was also assured by the DPP that matters raised regarding possible breaches of the OSH Act by Paria had been taken up at the Industrial Court before they could become statute barred on February 25.

Jackman, who is expected to mount the Paria Platform on Saturday, said two years after the incident, he was appalled by the treatment meted out to the families of the four divers.

Although Paria falls under the jurisdiction of the Government, the Prime Minister said government would not provide compensation to the families of divers.

Dr Rowley said he would not override the Paria board, and made it clear he had no intention of firing its members, even though there had been numerous calls for the board to go.

The surviving family members, along with Boodram, have spoken about their struggle to survive as Paria has never sought to compensate them.

Jackman said he and Kurban were friends and had a conversation the very day he died.

“After two years, it is appalling to me, that a company, knowing four families lost their providers on their compound and have done nothing but fight to prevent payment of compensation to their beneficiaries.

“I can’t believe we live in a country where state enterprises and government thinks like this.”

On Sunday morning, the actual anniversary date, some family members will go back out to sea to place flowers where the incident occurred.

At Plaisance Park, at 6 pm on Sunday, the families will end the day with a candlelight vigil in memory of the fallen divers.