ROSE HALL TOWN, CORENTYNE – The Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce (C.C.C.C), stands tall after being the first private sector body to construct a fire station for Government.
The $10.3 million facility was much needed in areas along the Central Corentyne. Up until Saturday, East Berbice had only two fire stations; one at New Amsterdam, which is some 14 miles (22 kilometers) from Rose Hall Town and the other at Corriverton, some 31 miles (50 kilometers) away.
Project Co-ordinator and Past President of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Poonai Bhigroog, in outlining the task, said when the Chamber was established in November 2004, the construction of a fire station was the first project identified.
Since then, the organisation worked towards accomplishing the goal despite a few initial obstacles. Things took off in 2005 after the then Fire Chief, Lawrence David, visited the town and selected an appropriate location, which is a few yards from the Rose Hall Town Police Outpost.
Eighteen months ago the sod was turned. During the project, when financial resources dwindled, benevolent souls, recognising the importance of the facility, stepped up to save the day.
Bhigroog indicated that some $500,000 was put aside for the project, which represented proceeds from the 2005 Berbice Expo and Trade Fair. In total, the C.C.C.C. pumped some $4 million into the fire station project. Other donors include overseas based Guyanese, Dave Balgobin, who gave $1 million, Region Six Democratic Council $1.4 million, the New Building Society, Republic Bank, Hand-In-Hand, Nand Persaud and Company Limited, Krishendat Persaud, Dr. Ramesh Sugrim, New Jersey Arya Samaj, Gaffoor of Rose Hall and several other local business entities.
In March 2009, consolidation work began on the 159 by 59 foot plot of land. The venture was completed in nine months with the actual structure accounting for some $9 million.
The driveway, fence and other paraphernalia used up the remainder. The design had to be modified along the way to ensure the overall cost remained within the projected amount. Nevertheless, the 37 by 47-foot size remained unchanged.
President of the C.C.C.C, Imran Hamid, took over the baton from Bhigroog in November last year and he also served as Vice-President from 2007. To him, the completion of the fire station is a significant achievement. It was a great pleasure for him to hand the keys to the facility over to the Guyana Fire Service through the Government. He emphasised the need communities along the Central Corentyne had for a fire station.
In March 2007, scores of persons watched helplessly as two landmarks standing side by side at Rose Hall Town were brought down by fire. Some $4 million worth of assets belonging to the Chamber was lost in that blaze. The victims were Dhruva Dharry, owner of Dharry’s Echo and Dharry’s Furniture Mart, which were in existence for more than one hundred years, and the Chamber’s Secretary Krishnanand Raghunanand, at whose home the assets were stored.
In September last year another fire destroyed a two-storey building that housed three separate business entities – Jai’s Footwear, Pawn Shop and Jewelry, Mathadeen Western Union and Bill Express and A&N Cosmetics and Gift Center, and damaged the Pentecostal Church at Rose Hall Town. A few days ago, a family at Port Mourant was left homeless when fire razed their place of abode.
According to Mr. Hamid, his Chamber is always ready to do its bit to keep the wheels of development turning.
On Saturday, Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee, commissioned the fire station, which highlighted what the Private Sector can do in terms of development. The Minister noted that Government has limited resources and cannot do all that it is expected to do, and this is where the Private Sector comes in.
The resuscitation of an auxiliary branch of the Guyana Fire Service is important and can lend much needed support. He showered kudos on the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce for a job well done.
At the function, Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle, whose tenure in Berbice lasted three years, recalled the chilling feeling each time a fire call was made from the Central Corentyne area, knowing that the response time would be put to the test.
Gentle commended his firefighters and cited the recent blaze at the St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in Georgetown as a success for the Fire Department. He called that their biggest challenge in recent times but diligent work saved more than 60 percent of the hospital. He made a commitment to continue providing a high quality of service to Guyanese.
The 18 volunteers at the Rose Hall Town Fire Station were praised for their love for the country and for recognising the need to serve. The volunteers were given basic fire-fighting training. Some even indicated that they had already dispatched applications to the Guyana Fire Service to become fire-fighters. After the commissioning ceremony, the volunteers staged a mini-demonstration, putting all they would have been taught into practice.
According to Gentle, Government presented the facility with a $32 million fire tender which has a 400 gallon water capacity.
Another past President of the C.C.C.C., Adrian Anamayah, who played a pivotal role in seeing the venture through, noted that the project was one of a kind to be undertaken by any Chamber of Commerce in Guyana and possibly the Caribbean.
Chairman of the Rose Hall Interim Management Committee, Bhadenauth Somrah, described the moment as the creation of a landmark in Rose Hall Town.
“Resilience has brought us thus far and we have achieved.”
He recommended that a management committee be set up.
The fire station was not the only major venture undertaken by the C.C.C.C.
In 2007, the group responded to a challenge thrown out by the then Commander of Division ‘B’ of the Guyana Police Force, Clinton Conway, who now serves as Assistant Commissioner Training, to rehabilitate the Felix Austin Police College Division ‘B’, located at Adventure on the Corentyne. The Chamber brought the college back into shape at a cost of some $10 million in 2008. The C.C.C.C. is also known for hosting the biggest annual event in Region Six – the Berbice Expo and Trade Fair. This event is billed for July at the Rose Hall Canje Welfare Centre Ground.
Chairman of Region Six, Zulfikar Mustapha, sees the need for other organisations to emulate the C.C.C.C. He said that because of their determination, all three towns in Region Six now have a fire station.
“I hope this facility would save life and property.”
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