A boat, transporting goods and staff attached to Toolsie Persaud Ltd’s (TPL) Anarika location, sank in the Essequibo River early Diwali morning resulting in the death of a 19-year-old man.
Rabrindranauth Inshanally of Lot 405 Diamond New Scheme, East Bank Demerara, separated from a group of five when the boat went under and was missing for two days. His body was found on Sunday near the river bank a short distance away from his work site.
Reports are that the boat began taking in water between Anarika and Rockstone on the Essequibo River. Because of its excess weight, the boat was quickly submerged.
The cargo was lost and the passengers floundered, as there were no lifejackets on the boat.
Inshanally’s colleagues told his relatives that they all grabbed onto items from the boat to stay afloat in the water. However, a few minutes later, they heard Inshanally screaming that the barrel he was holding onto was too slippery.
When Stabroek News contacted TPL yesterday, the Managing Director and Human Resources Manager both said the incident fell under the company’s Interior Location Section and directed all queries to that manager, Avinash Persaud. There was no response to telephone calls and messages left at his office yesterday.
Recounting details of the incident as they were relayed to her, Shamin Inshanally, the young man’s mother told Stabroek News that her son lost his grip of the barrel and started drifting away from the group. She said no one could help him so he drifted further away, out of sight and hearing.
She said they were travelling in a small boat with an engine, which belongs to the company and would take employees to the interior location after they would have travelled to Linden. She said that according to the information she received, the boat usually only transported people and cargo was ferried in on a pontoon. However, for some reason, she said, the boat her son was in was carrying goods.
“I get to hear that goods don’t travel with people but that boat with my son had rice and all kinds of bag so the water started to get in. Then it duck and my son try to stay above water but he couldn’t make it,” the woman related.
Shortly after the boat sank, she said, a passing fishing boat rescued the other persons in the river and the rescuers briefly looked for her son but were unsuccessful in locating him. The rescue boat transported the others to TPL’s site at Anarika where the accident was reported and news was conveyed that Inshanally had separated from the group.
A relative who travelled to Anarika to search for the missing man on Sunday told this newspaper that persons on duty at the worksite declined to go out with the company’s boats and mount a search for him in the river because the person in charge was not there to grant permission. He said the company had a few boats which could have been used but since permission was an issue no one went out.
He said a few persons in the area who had boats searched for the missing man on Saturday but there was no sign of him anywhere. On Sunday, when relatives journeyed to the area, he said, a search team from TPL met them on the river and told them Inshanally’s body had been found.
The man expressed concern that since Inshanally disappeared on Diwali morning no search boats went out for him from the company. He said too that they were still trying to ascertain why no lifejackets were on the boat. According to him, residents in the area reported that a 16-year-old was acting as boat captain. He said the boy was not licensed, based on what the people said, and should not have been driving the boat.
He added that the family would also like an answer in relation to why the goods were being transported along with the people. He said this was not the regular practice and it proved extremely dangerous resulting in Inshanally’s death.
Shamin Inshanally told Stabroek News that her son had only returned home on Wednesday and spent a brief period home, leaving for Anarika on Thursday. The woman said after she received a call on Friday last about the accident she telephoned TPL and asked for a confirmation in addition to any other information the company had at the time.
She said someone at the company took her telephone number and promised to return a call before the day was out. The person never called her.
“My son work with them for a few months yes, but that is no way to treat someone. I ain’t hear from them yet but after I bury my son, they will hear from me,” the woman said. She told Stabroek News that her eldest boy also works with TPL.
He was on location at Anarika when the incident occurred and left immediately on learning of the incident. He returned to the city after his brother was found.
Rabrindranauth was the second of four sons. The mother said he was a sweet young man who took up the job to join his older brother who has been with the company for some two years.