Couva South Member of Parliament Rudranath Indarsingh has accused the Government of attempting to cover up the investigation into the February 25 incident that led to the death of four divers at Paria Fuel Trading Company.
Addressing the media at a press conference yesterday, Indarsingh said just prior to the distribution of monetary support to the family members of the dead divers, he was approached by a whistle-blower.
“I do not know if it fortuitous or by divine intervention, but I had a visit from a whistle-blower, who has 40 years experience in the professional deep sea and commercial diving, and I took copious notes when this gentleman visited me,” Indarsingh said.
He noted that the whistle-blower walked with his professional divers’ logbook which documented his years of experience working with Texaco, Amoco, Petrotrin and Plipdeco.
Indarsingh added that having worked on Berths 5 and 6 in the said area where the tragedy occurred, the whistle-blower said all those involved-Paria, Minister of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), and the Cabinet led by Dr Keith Rowley-were all wasting time.
“He said based on his experience, this investigation should have been wrapped up by the Occupational Safety and Health Authority within two to three days, at best one week. And that is why I will reiterate the point, why is there incriminating silence, a deafening silence on the part of Paria? Where is the Minister of Labour? Where is the chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Authority, Dr Victor Coombs?
“So why are we being led down this road, why are we being told that there’s the need for long-term investigations based on what this professional deep-sea diver told me.”
He said the whistle-blower indicated that based on his analysis, somebody carried out an act of sabotage by hitting a switch which led to the suction, and that should have been the focus of the investigation.
“He also indicated that as it relates to compiling a report, that should not take more than one week, Indarsingh stated.
Indarsingh said the appointment of the investigative team further leads him to believe there will be a cover-up, and question why didn’t Rowley, who’s the head of the Government, instruct Energy Minister Stuart Young and labour Minister Stephen Mc Clashie to collaborate and get OSHA on the ground.
“Up to today, we do not know when this OSHA report will be finished. Whether it will take two, there, five, six months, when it is, the man said nothing, more than a week.
“As I said, this continues to reek of a conspiracy to cover up because the Prime Minister’s liming, golfing and inner circle partner is Mr Newman George who is in charge of Paria. This is why the UNC (United National Congress) led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar immediately dismantled the integrity of the Cabinet-appointed Commission, and we had to call out Mr Eugene Tiah because of a conflict of interest and the apparent bias,” Indarsingh said.
He said the Government knew fully well that when they placed Tiah on that investigative committee, it would have led to a cascading of events.
“I will ask again, will the Prime Minister when he receives through the Minister of Labour, this report from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority, will it be laid in the Parliament? Will it be made public, and when laid in the Parliament, will they be prepared to ensure that it goes through the rigours of scrutiny under a Joint Select Committee, to deal with this particular issue in the interest of transparency, accountability and good governance?”