Nothing for the divers’ families?

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 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 EDITOR: When lone survivor Christopher Boodram and relatives of the divers who lost their lives in the Paria diving tragedy asked to meet with the Prime Minister, little did they know they were going to cross swords with a master jouster.

In his initial foray into politics in 1981, Dr Rowley suffered a stinging defeat in Tobago. Since then, he has mastered the game and went on to become Diego Martin West MP, PNM leader and prime minister.

If Boodram and the families thought a meeting would guilt him into making promises about the management of state-owned Paria, they were sadly mistaken.

Paria, after all, is led by a PNM government-appointed board. So the government throwing friends and cronies under the bus is not the PNM’s modus operandi.

Had the board members been replaced, it would have sent a chilling message to other boards in other state institutions that the PNM no longer had their backs when things go awry.

Firing the board would set off lawsuits and the PM would have had to give an account of the individual board members who would be under the court’s microscope.

Furthermore, reports have been circulating that LMCS, the divers’ employer, has been taking care of their expenses since the tragedy and one would think there ought to be some kind of insurance coverage for that kind of job.

So instead of going to the PM hat in hand, demanding or begging him to take action to bring this tragedy to a conclusion, the families should have laid their cards on the table, explained what assistance they received thus far, what financial support they were promised, and how they are coping with the loss of their loved ones.

What about the insurance companies? Did Paria have their own insurance company; was Paria self-insured whereby the state would be on the hook? What about the company which employed the divers? Do they have insurance for their employees?

Even if there is more than one company providing insurance coverage, now that the commission of enquiry has concluded its mandate, why is it taking so long for the families to get their settlement?

There could never be a monetary value placed on the lives of those who perished or the mental anguish and sorrow their loved ones will have to bear for the rest of their lives.

Was Paria advised that it would be more costly to attempt a rescue of the trapped divers? Were there other considerations at play behind whatever decisions the board made? Considerations such as minimizing the potential of criminal charges and/or minimizing the political fallout that could lead to the PNM losing the next general elections?

We all know the recommendations of the enquiry are destined to be ignored and eventually forgotten by a nation that would still vote PNM no matter what that party and government does or doesn’t do.

When the general election is called in 2025, it would have been more than three years since the drowning tragedy. Based on the treacle-like responses that have unfolded thus far, it is not unreasonable to conclude that nothing substantial will be done.

Since February 2026 will be the fourth anniversary of the tragedy, we can reasonably conclude the PNM will be voted back into power and they will continue to joust with the lawyers of the divers’ families well into the foreseeable future. And life goes on as usual for the PNM government and their boards and board members.


San Juan


"Nothing for the divers’ families?"

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