Widow of Paria diver feels his presence in local government journey

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

New Couva West/Roystonia councillor Vanessa Kussie takes her oath of office during the swearing-in ceremony for the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation at Railway Road, Couva, on Tuesday. – AYANNA KINSALE

NEWLY elected Couva West/Roystonia councillor Vanessa Kussie says she feels the influence of her deceased husband Rishi Nagassar guiding her in her new journey to serve people in need.

On February 25, 2022, divers Nagassar, Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry and Christopher Boodram were doing maintenance work on a 30-inch underwater pipeline belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd, Pointe-a-Pierre, but were suddenly sucked into the pipeline. Only Boodram survived.

Speaking with the media after the swearing-in ceremony for councillors at the Couva Talpara Tababquite Regional C’orporation’s offices in Couva on Tuesday, Kussie said Nagassar continues to be a guiding influence in her life.

“I sense his presence as well, hugging me every day.”

Kussie said the tragedy at Paria was a reason why she decided to offer herself as a candidate for the UNC in the August 14 local government elections.

“I became a widow, a single parent.”

Kussie admitted that up to today, she finds it difficult to understand what happened last February.

But she said she gains strength from the support of her children.

“We keep strong as a family. I couldn’t ask for better children. They are my all.”

Kussie said being a widow and a single parent, she was able to empathise with many people she met in the district while she was campaigning.

She said she even convinced some PNM supporters to give her a chance as their councillor.

Kussie promised to serve her burgesses better than any of her predecessors.

In congratulating all the CTTRC councillors, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh acknowledged Kussie as one of three new councillors at the corporation.

He described her swearing-in as “a day of emotion and reflection for what she would have experienced.”

The report of the Paria Commission of Enquiry is expected to be submitted to President Christine Kangaloo by August 31.