On Friday 25th February five men dived down under water to do some work for Paria Trading Company Limited’s underwater facility at Berth 6 to complete a repair job on a flange of a pipeline. Something went wrong. What exactly did go wrong has not been reported except that it seems that the five men were sucked into a three foot pipe under water where they got jammed. The only one who managed to escape was the last to be sucked in. According to the newspapers (and ALL of my information here is from the newspapers and the television reporting) it seems that they lost their air tanks but somehow managed to find a pocket of air which sustained them for a while. And here is where the story goes “south” and stupidity comes in.
It seems that when family members of the trapped five men heard about the accident they converged at the site at Pointe-a-Pierre. Some of those family members were expert divers. They were about to go into the water to look for and rescue the stricken men when they were reportedly told by officials of Paria that they could not do that because it was against the Company’s protocols and they had to wait for permission. Two of the relatives disregarded the order and went into the water and managed to rescue one man. They were about to re-enter the water (remember that the men had been in the water since about 2:30pm and the first – and only- rescue – took place at about 5:30pm and the men were calling for help from the air pocket) when the Paria officials came again and ordered them to stop. This time they instructed the Coast Guard – who had guns – to prevent them from going back to rescue the stricken men.
In the result nobody else was rescued.
So now the questions are:
1) Who were the idiots who told the would-be rescuers that they were breaching the Company’s “protocols”? What were their names?
2) Who had to give permission for the would be rescuers to breach the Company’s “protocols” to have a rescue made? What were their names? What is his name and when he couldn’t be found who was his boss who could override these “protocols”? What is his name? And where were these officials who could override the “protocols”? After all, the mishap took place during normal working hours and surely it is proper company practice for a manager to be able to be found during working hours?
3) We are talking about life and death here. Why was there enough time for the Coast Guard to arrive, but the person or persons who could give the permission to start a rescue could not be found?
4) Who was the relevant officer in charge of the Coast Guard who ordered his men to point their guns at the rescuers? What Is his name? What are the names of the members of the Coast Guard who pointed their guns at the rescuers?
5) What exactly are these “protocols” and who (names please) wrote them? Where can these “protocols” be found? Who approved them and when were they approved.
6) And last (but certainly not least) who turned on (or failed to turn off) the pipe that sucked the men to their deaths? Whose responsibility was it? What is his name?
Certainly, from the newspaper reports it appears that there are several persons (who can only be described at the very least as complete idiots) that there is a serious case to answer with criminal charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence arising. It should not take longer than a week for these (and other) questions to be answered. And it should not take longer than a week for those responsible to face the Court.
But, hey! This is Trinidad and the obvious expectation in the population at large (including the donkeys who allowed this tragedy to happen) is that there will be no prompt enquiry, no charges and no arrests. In other words, it will be business as usual and the fact that four men are now dead when they shoul;d be alive is totally irrelevant. After all, the dead men were nobodies and nothings – unimportant. But they were human beings and deserve our collective horror and dismay over their untimely deaths. And they had people who loved them. And if money eventually has to be paid, then it will be paid by a State company and not by the guilty persons whose fault it was that these men are dead. In other words, there will be no punishment! Sometimes I wonder whether or not we will ever become a serious society which holds persons to account. And just when I think that we have reached the height of stupidity something like this happens!
By Robin Montano