PM: No request to meet divers’ families received yet

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The four divers who died in an accident at Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd’s Pointe-a-Pierre facility in February 2022. From left: Kazim Ali Jnr, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Fyzal Kurban. –

THE Prime Minister said he has not received a request from anyone representing the families of the divers in the Paria tragedy, seeking a meeting between him and the families.

On February 25,2022, divers Christopher Boodram, Kazim Ali Jnr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Rishi Nagassar were repairing a 30-inch pipeline at Paria’s Pointe-a-Pierre facility when they were sucked into it.

Only Boodram escaped.

The divers worked for LMCS (Land and Marine Construction Services Ltd), which had a contract with Paria.

Responding to a question from Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh on Wednesday, Dr Rowley said, “I did indicate (previously) that I was told that members of the families or a member of the family wanted to meet with me.”

He added, “I indicated that if such a request came, I would meet (with them). I have seen no such request.”

Indarsingh asked Rowley if Cabinet had considered or given approval for any kind of ex-gratia payments being made to the families.

Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George ruled that question out of order.

Annisette-George is the wife of Paria Fuel Trading Company chairman Newman George.

At a news conference in San Fernando on January 22, attorney Prakash Ramadhar suggested that ex-gratia payments of $5 million to each of the divers’ families would be fair. Ramadhar represents the Henry and Kurban families.

In its report, which Energy Minister Stuart Young laid in the House on January 19, the Paria Commission of Enquiry (CoE) said, “There is not a strong enough case to recommend the prosecution of any one individual. However the law permits a corporation to be charged with manslaughter.”

Indarsingh asked if, in light of this recommendation by the CoE, Paria’s board of directors would be removed before any meeting takes place between himself and the families of the divers.

Rowley said, notwithstanding the best effort of cherry picking by the Opposition of the contents of the CoE report, he would keep his office far away “from any legal exposure to the taxpayer.”

In response to questions from the Opposition in the House on January 25, Rowley said Government could not direct Paria at the time to make any financial payments to the families of divers.