May 30, 2023 Letters
Kaieteur News – As soon as the Mahdia fire happened and news spread all over the world that 19 children died, the Government’s masterful propaganda put out a statement that the fire was set by a student. PPP people quickly said you can’t blame the Minister and Government, blame the girl who set the fire. In this case, there were many sins and many sinners, not just the alleged student. That student now faces 19 murder charges, and rightly so. But who else needs to be charged for the children being padlocked and unable to escape the deadly inferno? Which employees, supervisors, managers in the Government system had a duty of care and are culpable, responsible because they did not do due diligence to protect our children entrusted to their care? Which Offices/employees failed to follow up on the Fire Services inspection reports? Did the Fire Department issued any citations when they visited in February 2023, and they found out their recommendations of November 2022 were not implemented. Why not? This criminal negligence led to 19 lives being snuffed out in May.
Opposition MP Mr. Mahipaul asked, “Who should provide the answers? Priya Manickchand or Nigel Dharamlall? (see “MAHDIA’S INFERNO, KN, May 28, 2023). Both? Joint responsibility. I do not blame the Dorm Mother at all. She was merely a pawn doing a job given to her to fetch water in a basket. She was not the one who designed the system and determined that there will be one adult in charge of 60 students and living separately and apart from where the girls lived. She did not install grills that cannot be opened, and did not choose on her own to use padlocks. The Dorm Mother was not the one who failed to install smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers and related fire prevention and safety equipment. She was not the one responsible for only one fire engine which ran out of water. She may have complained to her bosses but nobody listened to her as is typical in Guyana. The Dorm Mother herself is a victim as she lost her child trying to help the other children. So who must face punishment for all these failures? Who is accountable? At whose desk does the buck stop? In the British system, when things like this happen, Ministers resign readily. Will this happen for these Mahdia deaths? Will the President fire those Ministers who failed to do their jobs, or ask for their resignations? These 19 children must not die in vain. This was so horrific that many newspapers and TV stations around the world carried this sad Guyana story. President Ali can make sure he does not become a one-term President by firing the Minister/s responsible for the School and Dorm. I am not a lawyer but the terms “reckless endangerment,” “dereliction of duty,” “failure to monitor,” “criminal neglect,” “criminal negligence,” “duty of care,” come to mind.
Is there one decent, merciful, caring, nationalist lawyer in Guyana who would step up and file a class action suit against the Government? Please step up.
The Media has to do more to get the stories from students, families, the Dorm Mother, and the student charged so the Guyanese people can get the real truth, not Government’s massaged releases, calculated to make the Government look innocent, blameless. The PPP knows that they cannot win an election without the Amerindian vote. If the President does not fire Minister/s or if Ministers do not resign, then the Amerindian people must stay home and boycott the LGE as a sign of protest. Show the Government that you are not just a vote farm, but that your children’s lives and your communities’ matter. Also, do not let them use your children as props lining the road when Ministers visit. Burnham used to do that to make up crowds. Why is PPP doing that too? Stop it!
The Police have charged a PNC man for calling now PPP supporter Ms. Chase-Green a false name. Would the Police charge anyone in the negligent Government system for the likely “involuntary manslaughter” deaths of 18 of our Amerindian daughters and one son? Mr. President show us that you really care. Send a message to the Guyanese people that you will not tolerate ministers not doing their jobs, and who tarnish your Government. Failing that, Civil Society must protest until the President takes action against errant Ministers. All some ministers care about is taking pictures with children, especially black children, and put on Facebook. They act as if that’s all their job. So who is minding the store?
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