The government yesterday airlifted emergency supplies of water, food and sleeping equipment to the key mining district of Mahdia, and the miners association set up a relief fund that immediately raised $10 million, after a late Saturday fire left 150 persons homeless.
Vision Guyana, led by politician, Peter Ramsaroop, bemoaned the fact that the area has no fire brigade or running water.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds led a government team of Ministers and disaster response officials to the community, located some 100 miles from the capital Georgetown.
The fire started at a business place and ripped through an arcade which served as the lodging and business place for coastlanders who meet the needs of miners who use Mahdia as a transit point to gold and diamond mines in the country’s mountainous Region Eight.
Region Eight Chairman Senor Bell said mining in Region Eight would not be affected.
Emergency shelter arrangements in the community’s school have been put in place for the affected families.
“The Administration has indicated its intention to further intervene and support the affected families in rebuilding and restoring their economic livelihood,” the Office of the President stated.
A Cabinet team lead by Prime Minister Hinds and including Ministers Dr. Jennifer Westford, Robeson Benn and Kellawan Lall flew into Mahdia early yesterday morning and after a damage assessment and needs analysis made a number of interventions.
Emergency shelter arrangements in the community school have been put in place for the affected families. Initial shipments of emergency disaster supplies from the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) warehouse were airlifted into the area yesterday morning.
The CDC is spearheading the co-ordinated emergency response by Government agencies and Non Governmental Organisations.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) has established a relief fund to assist miners and members of the mining community. Executive Director of the GGDMA, Edward Shields, noted that the members of the association have expressed deep concern upon hearing the news of the tragedy.
A decision was taken to immediately establish the Mahdia Relief Fund. He noted, “we are pledging our support for miners and members of the community in their rebuilding efforts.”
Executive members of the association are expected to visit the area today to access, first hand, the damage done. While there they will meet with Mahdia Mining Committee to determine what the urgent needs within the community are and other areas of support. The priority for the association is to ensure that the displaced residents find shelter and start the rebuilding process.
So far the GGDMA has received donations from Mr. Stanislaus Jardim, Mr. Afro Alphonso, Mr. Chunilall Baboolall (CDR Mining), Mr. Mahendra Persaud ( Crown Mining), Mr. Yucatan Reis (Excel Minerals), Mr. Patrick Perriera and Mr. Shawn Hopkinson.
The fund stands at over $10 million along with a pledge of over $1 million dollars in timber.
The fund has been set up at the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association and persons who wish to contribute can contact the GGDMA at lot 29 North Road, Bourda or on telephone numbers 225-2217 or fax 225-1828.
Vision Guyana said that it was saddened by the loss of property of the residents of Mahdia due to the recent fire.
“We are more disappointed that the government has rushed up to the area and promised money when they were asked many times to provide a fire brigade to the area. In addition, the government failed to ensure the water from the nearby creek was flowing into the area,” Vision Guyana stated.
Vision Guyana called for a comprehensive look at all areas around the country which lack fire services and that adequate funding be provided.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for Change (AFC) has asked its representatives in the Mahdia community to meet with the victims and to conduct a fact finding exercise as to their immediate needs. Following this, it will endeavour to provide whatever relief it reasonably can.
In a few days, the Party will be dispatching a team to assess the losses and to investigate reports that despite the $150 M recently spent on providing water to the community, not a drop was available for use as the fire raged and consumed building after building.
“The residents are understandably upset that an important community as theirs is without water and even a fire tender to address calamities such as the one which struck on Thursday,” the AFC stated.
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