Paria Diving Tragedy Survivor: Families Struggling To Survive

(TT GUARDIAN) – Apart from wanting the Commission of Enquiry (CoE) into the Paria/LMCS Diving Tragedy to recommend criminal charges against those responsible for his injuries and the deaths of his colleagues, Christopher Boodram says speedy compensation for the families should be a consideration.

Boodram is the lone survivor of the tragic Delta P incident at the Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd on February 25, 2022, where he and his colleague got sucked into a 30-inch pipeline. Boodram, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, Kazim Ali Jr and Rishi Nagassar were all divers with Land and Marine Contracting Services Ltd (LMCS) carrying out subsea maintenance on Paria’s Sealine No. 36 at Berth No. 6 in the Pointe-a-Pierre harbour.

Since that day, Boodram has been unable to work, as he still undergoes physiotherapy for his injured shoulder.

He told Guardian Media yesterday that Paria had spent significant money on legal fees but did not consider allocating some to help the families of the deceased divers.

While Boodram appreciates the CoE, he said it is a costly event and while it is going on, the families of the men who died, and his own, are struggling to survive as they have lost their breadwinners.

“I am not making any attacks on the Enquiry because they have to do their jobs, but it still has to be said that while everybody is carrying home a paycheque, the divers’ families are left out. They should make a recommendation for some speedy compensation.”

He said if the CoE recommends charges and there are other civil proceedings, it could take five to 10 years for the decision while the families continue to suffer.

“How will the families survive? Do we have to continue begging? We have to continue throwing barbecues?”

Boodram recalled Paria’s general manager Mushtaq Mohammed telling the CoE that the company offered Massy vouchers to the families but said this was untrue. He said no one reached out to him and the other families.

Boodram, a witness at the CoE’s evidentiary hearings, attended the proceedings at the International Waterfront in Port-of-Spain daily.

However, he admitted that he stayed home to watch the hearings in the new year, as he could not quell his temper during the evidence of Mohammed and Paria’s Terminal Operations Management Collin Piper.

He said based on what he heard from those witnesses, Paria sought to absolve itself of responsibility by any means and blamed the divers, saying they broke protocol and did not follow the Permit-to-Work (PTW). However, Boodram claimed the PTW outlined the work needed but only had three lines.

“How many things can you put into three lines in a permit? You can say now that taking out the plug was the wrong thing to do but in hindsight. Before hindsight, they did not know that because they clearly stated that they knew nothing about the job and LMCS was the specialist.”

He said Paria also prevented the same company it claimed was a specialist from saving his friends. He asked if LMCS was the specialist contractor, why Paria did not leave the company to exercise its diving specialities instead of calling other people to get advice.

Boodram said Paria failed him and his colleagues, as they were responsible for ensuring LMCS had everything in order.

He said Piper and Mushtaq Mohammed’s evidence stood out the most. He recalled seeing a video of Mohammed interacting with the families and laughing. He questioned why Mohammed would laugh in a situation where divers were in a pipe and laugh in front of their families if they had any care or moral duty. He said even if Mohammed did not have personal feelings for the divers and their families, he should understand they were in pain and needed support.

Boodram said it was like spitting in someone’s face while they lay on the ground. He said it was disrespectful and showed that Mohammed did not care.