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PM leads Ministerial delegation to Mahdia for 1st Anniversary of dorm fire victims

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– memorial site to be established to honour the victims

On the one-year observance of the tragic Mahdia dormitory fire that claimed the lives of 20 and injured several, Prime Minister, ret’d Brigadier Mark Phillips led a delegation of government Ministers to Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) for several memorial services in honor of the fallen.
May 21 marks the one-year observance of the tragic Mahdia Secondary School dormitory fire that resulted in the deaths of 20 students and injured several. During the day, memorial services were held in Micobie, Karisparu, and Chenapou, three of the Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) villages the victims hailed from.

The 20th victim, Sherina Daniels

Prime Minister, retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, led a delegation of Government Ministers to Micobie, where a memorial service and wreath laying ceremony was held for 12 of the victims from that village.
During the service at Micobie Village, the Prime Minister stated that a memorial site would be established to honour the victims. “Soon we will also immortalise the memories of our lost girls and boy by establishing a memorial site. This is a necessary move to ensure the lives of these 20 young people will always be etched in our minds and hearts.”

Nineteen of the 20 victims who perished in the fire

It has been one year since Guyana lost 20 young lives. Of those children, eleven were buried in Micobie, while four each were buried in Karisparu and Chenapou. The lone lad was laid to rest in Georgetown.

Prime Minister, Brig (Retired) Mark Phillips, along with Ministers Joseph Hamilton, Oneidge Walrond and Susan Rodrigues, at the memorial service in Micobie, Region 8

Prime Minister Phillips said one of the most important lessons from the tragedy is the protection of the nation’s children in every aspect of life.
Accompanying the Prime Minister to Micobie were Ministers of Labour Joseph Hamilton and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond. Also on the trip was Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues.
Simultaneously, ceremonies were also being held in Karisparu and Chenapou where other Ministers were in attendance. In the latter, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat, as well as Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Sonia Parag and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Kwame McCoy took part in the observance.

Ministers Vickram Bharrat, Sonia Parag and Kwame McCoy in Chenapou, Region 8

“The government continues to pledge its unwavering support to the families of the victims and survivors,” a statement from the government added.
On May 21, 2023, tragedy struck at the school girls’ dormitory, which had housed 56 occupants and a five-year-old boy from the communities of Karisparu, El Paso, Micobie and Chenapau, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
The Guyana Fire Service confirmed that 14 children died in the inferno, while five succumbed to their injuries at the Mahdia District Hospital. Another died days later. One survivor was flown overseas for treatment and would have returned to Guyana several weeks later. She is said to be recovering at a rapid pace.
However, a 15-year-old dorm mate was slapped with 20 counts of murder. She has since been detained at a juvenile holding facility. It was reported that she allegedly set the place on fire after being reprimanded by teachers for inappropriate behaviour. She reportedly became angry after her mobile phone was confiscated.

Following the deadly blaze, a Commission of Inquiry was launched and after several weeks of proceedings, it outlined several recommendations to improve the condition of dormitories across the country, and to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy, looking at the combined viewpoints of security, society, and safety.
The report was handed over to President Dr Irfaan Ali by the Chairman of the CoI, Major General (Retired) Joe Singh, on January 19, 2024.
From the findings tendered, the Commission recommended that an inspectorate be set up to visit the dormitories which have been or are being, retrofitted, to determine the extent to which they comply with the recommended gender-sensitive standards for dormitories. This should also apply to dormitories that are intended to be constructed.
Further, the report detailed, “The visits should allow for the inspection of fire-suppression systems, emergency evacuation procedures, and assessment of first responder fire-fighting drills and capabilities. Compliance with the statutory schedules for fire drills at schools and dormitories must also be monitored and enforced.”
Additionally, technically competent individuals should be included in such inspectorate teams, and reports on the extent of compliance achieved are to be submitted to the relevant agencies for evaluation and follow-up action.
Furthermore, grills should be replaced with a modern security system, inclusive of secured fencing and cameras, to ensure a protected environment and assist in monitoring the entry and exit of all persons using the facilities.
The Commission heard, during testimonies, that the grills were installed to prevent the girls from escaping and indulging in the nightlife of the mining town

The post PM leads Ministerial delegation to Mahdia for 1st Anniversary of dorm fire victims appeared first on Guyana Times.

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