Family members of the four missing divers who are now believed to be dead, waited in vain for yet another day yesterday hoping that their loved ones would be found alive.
Supported by members of the Movement for Social Justice, the trade union movement and other groups, relatives demanded answers as they complained that there has been no urgency by the company to save the lives of their loved ones.
At one point a senior officer tried to stop the picketing, but after speaking with Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget and MSJ David Abdulah, they allowed the demonstration to continue with social distancing.
The divers got sucked into a 30-inch pipe while doing maintenance work at No 36 Sealine Riser on Berth 6 off Pointe-a-Pierre around 2.30 pm on Friday.
Boodram managed to swim out of the pipe and was helped by Kurban’s two sons who are also professional divers.
He is warded at the San Fernando General Hospital.
Boodram told his wife that they lost their oxygen tanks after they got sucked in the pipe, but they found an air pocket.
He and Kurban then decided to swim out of the pipe and on the way he found an oxygen tank. He said he almost gave up several times.
Kurban’s son Nicholas told reporters that they wanted to go back in search of his father and the other men but Paria prevented them.
“We had the opportunity to get the rest of them out but Paria and the officials and the safety men keep saying we can’t go back into the line because it’s unsafe. We get two dive teams from Chaguaramas and these guys have the equipment to go the distance and they have unlimited air and they have pumps and everything, lights. But the bosses and the heads and them say they don’t want to send men back down before more men die. The problem is that these guys accustom diving in rigs, thousands of feet and these guys are professionals too.”
Nicholas, however, believed the men were still alive.
“The last resort is to pump it out and let the men come out on the next side and take them out,” said Nicholas who explained the divers could get injured in the process.
Henry’s mother Nicole Greenidge complained that the company is now waiting for a permit to commence rescue efforts.
“Everything is like spinning top in mud and going around in a circle because we just being fed with lies since Friday as far as I am concerned,” she said.
She said Paria was not giving them any substantial information.
“We not seeing no urgency to save their lives. They are moving, as far as I can see, as though they have bodies to pick up so they don’t have to worry. They not thinking if those guys are alive what it is they have to sustain themselves they have been out there since Friday.”
Greenidge said at the meeting with Energy Minister Stuart Young and Paria officials at Paria’s compound on Saturday, they got no answers. “What they tell us and nothing is the same,” she said.
Meanwhile, MSJ leader David Abdulah said this issue goes to the very heart of all that is wrong in the country as a result of government policies. “Policies that are demanding a callous regard for human life and people. Policies that are putting profit before people so they boast about the profit of Paria and heritage, and we dispute that.”
Abdulah said what unfolded on Friday clearly shows that there was a system failure.
He claimed that vessels, equipment and divers who were prepared to rescue the divers were stopped by Paria and argued that Paria has also shown total disrespect to the families of the divers.
Noting that the families have been camping out in a shed outside Paria facilities in Pointe-a-Pierre, he said the OWTU arranged lights, toilet facilities, chairs and tables for the families.
Meanwhile, OWTU president general Ancel Roget again expressed his dissatisfaction with Paria’s handling of the situation. He said there were no emergency rescue procedures and apparatus in place.
Seamen and Waterfront Trade Union leader Michael Annisette who also participated in the demonstration offered maritime legal services to the families.
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