Fire at Health Ministry…
– Dr Ramsammy
The attack on the Ministry of Health is nothing short of a case of ‘Domestic Terrorism’ said Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy when he hosted a press conference at the National AIDS Programme Secretariat yesterday.
He told media operatives that while the attack is clearly a criminal case of arson, it is in fact despicable. He said that it is shocking and shameful that anyone would have selected the Ministry for such an expression of terrorism.
“Guyana can ill-afford such terrorist acts. And as the Minister of Health and as a citizen of this country, I deplore such actions and I would ask all Guyanese to join me in expressing our disapproval of such tactics. Whatever makes people angry, terrorism is not an option,” warned the Minister.
He pointed out that the effort by persons to address their concerns through destruction of a health facility is the worst thing that anyone could think of. “I stand by my words, that this must be the action of warped minds, people who don’t belong in the realm of human togetherness. These are people who need to be arrested, people who need to be charged and people who on conviction should be locked away.”
According to the Minister, he could only express anger that person or persons had chosen his Ministry for such an attack.
The Minister said, yesterday, too that he has had confirmation that indeed the fire was as result of firebombing through the use of channa bombs.
He disclosed that since Friday it was also discovered that in the other buildings of the Ministry there were broken window panes. He added, too, that it has been ascertained that the panes were not broken as a result of the fire or activities around the fire.
“These were broken at strategic points indicating that attempts were made to firebomb other buildings. These panes were broken but the windows were protected by grills so therefore they couldn’t get in.”
The Minister noted that there was certain proof that there was an attempt to destroy the Ministry in totality.
He expressed disappointment that there have been some erroneous statements made about the cause of the fire, even as he added that “this is not the time for us to manufacture stories. Any kind of implication that the Ministry of Health wanted to destroy its records is pure mischievousness.”
According to the Minister, when he spoke with media operatives at a press conference on Friday, he had not received police confirmation that explosive items were discovered at the site of the fire which razed the main building at the Ministry’s Brickdam headquarters.
He said that on Friday prior to speaking with the media, he had heard and officers had indicated to him that they had in their possession remnants of channa bombs.
The Minister is, however, grateful that the whole complex was not destroyed, even as he pointed to the fact that the work of the Ministry cannot be deferred for even one day.
He said that in spite of the destruction, the staff at the Ministry have been at work to ensure that public health services remain available to people.
“At this particular time some of our services have already been relocated and we are working throughout this weekend, 24 hours per day, to ensure that when the Ministry of Health staff report for work (tomorrow) they have a place from which to deliver their services.”
And according to the Minister, all staffers can rest assured that they will receive their salaries. He noted that although some accounting documents were destroyed, the Ministry was able to recover some $2.5 M in petty cash which was secured in a safe with some cheques that will have to be returned to the Accountant General and new ones will be reissued to allow for the payment of salaries.
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