Former Opposition Parliamentarian, Mervyn Williams noted today that despite claims about the lack of fire prevention mechanisms at the Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory predating the current administration, there were indeed a number of apparatuses in place at the dorm.
According to Williams, the APNU-AFC Regime had equipped several dormitories in the hinterlands including Region 8. By extension, Williams explained that the Mahdia Secondary Dormitory was outfitted with a fire extinguisher and multiple other mechanisms that were in place to facilitate a safe escape in the event of a fire.
However, during an exclusive interview with the Dorm Mistress last week with Guyana Standard, she explained that when she took over as dorm mother four years ago, there were no fire extinguishers or fire drills that took place during the time she was there. In fact, she told this publication that there were concerns about the heightened security at the dorms.
Given the timeline by the Dorm Mistress, it would indicate that the issue predated the administration. But Williams was quick to defend the claims, stating that heightened security at the dormitory was never a decision by the previous administration.
“When I spoke with a former regional official recently, he told me that there were no grills on the building and that there were fire extinguishers and other mechanisms in place in the case of a fire. I don’t know where those mechanisms disappeared to. All this administration needed to do was to build on what was left for them and that they couldn’t do,” Williams said.
He noted too that there were several hindrances the fire service faced with regards to reaching the location in time, including incomplete road infrastructure.
Williams also called on the administration to put systems in place to prevent further fires at dormitories, especially since another occurred at Karasabai in Region 9. Four male students of the school reportedly confessed to setting the hostel on fire. All 19 students escaped unharmed.
Williams however said that the government’s lackluster approach to institute mechanisms to prevent further damages and risk to life is worrying.
The death toll this week climbed to 20 as a student on life support succumbed to her injuries. Nineteen other students were buried this week as DNA test results returned from the United States last week, identifying the remains that were burnt beyond recognition.
The student who is accused of setting the blaze was this week charged with 19 counts of murder. She was remanded to the juvenile holding center until July 4.