Senior Multimedia Reporter
Former OSH inspector Safraz Ali is calling on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to lay the Commission of Enquiry Report into the Paria Diving Tragedy in Parliament as soon as possible so that the Occupational Safety and Health Agency and the police could prefer charges against culpable parties within the next six months.
Drawing reference to Section 91 (2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Ali said the OSH Agency has six months to lay charges after the CoE or inquest report is submitted.
Saying time is ticking away, Ali added that it is in the public’s interest to make the report public. He expressed worry that the report will be sanitised or hidden from the public, noting that if six months passes, the OSHA will be unable to press charges.
“It is clear that the OSH Act has put a time limit after the report is produced, therefore the time is ticking away now,” he said.
Drawing attention to Section 91(2), Ali noted the report’s significance in identifying breaches of the law, particularly the OSH Act, allowing the OSH agency to utilise its evidence for charges against responsible parties.
“We are calling for this report to be made public, preferably laid in Parliament, so that the relevant regulatory enforcement bodies will then have access to the report and if there is a safety and health offence specified in the report, the OSH agency can use the evidence in the report to initiate charges to be laid. If there is criminal conduct in the report, the TTPS could do their part based on advice from the DPP and also lay charges,” Ali explained.
He said both the OSH and TTPS have initiated separate investigations culminating in the Commission of Enquiry which is recognised in the OSH Act for fatalities investigation and subsequent charges.
“The public interest is served once the relevant law enforcement can initiate charges against parties who contravened the relevant sections of the law. It is important that we do this,” he added.
Stressing the importance of transparency and public interest, Ali said he hoped the unsanitised presentation of the report would be laid in Parliament.
On Thursday, Jerome Lynch, KC, chair of the Commission of Enquiry, submitted the report to President Christine Kangaloo.
Cheryl Lala, the President’s Communications adviser told Guardian Media, “Her Excellency received the report and sent it the same day to the Office of the Prime Minister.”
On Friday attorney Prakash Ramadhar said he intends to write to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley asking for a copy of the CoE report.
Since the completion of the CoE, there has been a public outcry for the report to be made public.
Concerns have been raised as to why the families of the victims had not received a cent of compensation from Paria Fuel Trading Company or Land and Marine Construction Services Ltd (LMCS) Ltd.
On February 25, last year, four divers, Fyzal Kurban, Kazim Ali Jr, Rishi Nagassar and Yusuf Henry died after disappearing into a pipeline during an underwater maintenance exercise. A fifth diver Christopher Boodram survived. LMCS company had hired the divers to execute maintenance works on Sealine 36 situated between Berth 5 and 6 when the tragedy occurred.