GT&T denies technical defects in 911 system

– says missing handsets, unanswered calls frequent at stations

The Guyana Telephone   and Telegraph Company (GT&T) yesterday denied that technical issues were to blame for problems dogging the 911 emergency system, while revealing that its own checks revealed that missing handsets and unresponsive personnel during standard working hours at police stations were frequent occurrences.

The company’s issued its defence in a statement yesterday in response to a claim by PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee earlier in the day that the landline service provider must take responsibility for calls not being connected.

“GT&T are not accepting any responsibility or any blame/fault on their part for the 911 number or calls not going through to the police station or where they ought to be received—because I have heard many persons tell me, and these are people I consider to be credible persons, they would call 911 and they would hear the ringtone in the phone they are using but someone sitting on the other side… there is no number ringing there,” Rohee stated at a press conference at Freedom House yesterday.

He said he had first-hand experience of seeing police ranks sitting by the phone awaiting a call that never came through. He said that this could only be a sign of a technical problem, which was the responsibility of GT&T.

Rohee said that GT&T would have to explain.

In a statement released shortly after by GT&T, the company said the “unresponsiveness of the 911 personnel” had nothing to do with the company. “Our checks have revealed that the following occur with great frequency (a) the disappearance of handsets from the termination points of 911 lines at various Police Stations; (b) the removal of the handset off the hook; (c) no answer by personnel during standard working hours,” it noted.

“For simplicity, it is not within our control who answers the 911 phone. GT&T’s responsibility begins and ends with ensuring access by all subscribers to the assigned 911 fixed service lines and ensuring maintenance of this access as a priority,” it added, while recommending a full investigation be done.

“GT&T values the excellent working relationship that GT&T has with the Ministry of Home Affairs through the Guyana Police Force and would therefore wish for this important national security matter to be addressed from a facts based perspective as opposed to apparent innuendo, misconceptions and false conclusions, which we presume have been erroneously supplied to the Honourable Minister, resulting in today’s public release which has potential for public anxiety,” it said.

The company’s statement revealed that earlier this year it consulted with the minister to upgrade the national emergency system, inclusive of police, fire and ambulance services. GT&T stated that it was “essentially data gathering sessions” and it had not been privy to the results but added that it would be surprised if consultants identified “technical faults” as being responsible for 911 calls being unanswered.

In March, Rohee revealed that a US$20,000 consultancy contract was signed to review the 911 service. He said, “The complaints were numerous and therefore we couldn’t just sit on our hands and do nothing about it. Apparently we don’t have the capacity… at the national level to correct this deficiency and so I thought it was necessary to bring persons from outside.” He had stated that he was “fed up” of the “poor performance” and that measures needed to be taken to revamp the current system.

GT&T stated that after meeting with the GPF in 2005, a decision was made for each district to be equipped with a 911 service which operated “like any other landline/fixed service provided by GT&T.” It said that after the meeting, the GPF requested that 911 be answered at various stations to aid the police’s response time. As a result, every district is equipped with a 911 line with the exception of Georgetown and New Amsterdam, which have four lines each. As for cell calls, it said, they are all answered at Brickdam and during the weekly checks GT&T has not found any technical issues with the lines’ functionality.

Members of the public have complained for years about the 911 system and most of the complaints have been about personnel assigned to work the post failing to answer the calls. Recently, during a robbery that occurred around the corner from the Kitty Police Station, victims said that calls were made to 911 but there was no response.

Many have pointed out that 912, the emergency number for the Guyana Fire Service, is answered without fail, raising questions as to why only the 911 lines experience such a high volume of “technical issues” as stated by Rohee.

More in Local News

default placeholder

Draft bill sees state assets recovery via civil proceedings

The draft State Assets Recovery Bill 2016 envisages non-conviction based, civil recoveries of property over $10m with a 12-year limitation period and wide powers will be available to the agency to be set up under the law to gather information.

Raphael Trotman

Gov’t will not be ‘lectured to in the press’ on forest concessions, Trotman says

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Raphael Trotman yesterday said that the government will not be “lectured” to in the press on the issue of forestry concessions, while announcing that the arrival of officials from a company in China that may take over the operations of the controversial Baishanlin is being awaited.

Black Bush murder victims laid to rest: Rice farmer, Pawan Chandradeo, 37; his fifteen-year-old son, Jaikarran Chandradeo, both of 163 Mibicuri North, Black Bush Polder and his brother-in-law Naresh Rooplall, 33, of Number 75 Village, Corentyne were yesterday laid to rest following an emotional funeral. They were buried at the Babu John Cemetery, Port Mourant. The trio were found dead on Friday, less than a day after they had left to go on a fishing trip in Black Bush Polder. Intense investigations are underway into the murders. Photo shows the caskets of the three victims and part of the crowd that gathered.

Black Bush triple murder suspects brought to city

Seven men, including the main suspect who was arrested in connection with the Black Bush Polder, Corentyne triple murder were transported to Georgetown on Tuesday evening and are currently being questioned by ranks from the Criminal Investigation Department’s (CID), Major Crimes Unit.

Anthony Jhagroo

Bulletin issued for suspect in murder of mechanic

The police yesterday issued a  bulletin for Anthony Jhagroo, who is wanted for questioning in relation to two offences: escaping from lawful custody and the murder of mechanic, Yugeshwar Shiwcharan.

default placeholder

Five cops under close arrest over stolen gold

Five police officers attached to the Brickdam Police Station are currently under close arrest after they allegedly stole a quantity of raw gold from some miners last Friday.

default placeholder

Norway team ‘horrified’ at bauxite mining in pilot village Muritaro

A private bauxite mining operation in the Amerindian community of Muritaro on the Demerara River, discovered by members of a “horrified” team from Norway, was shut down by the Ministry of Natural Resources late last year, since the community was one identified to benefit from the Guyana-Norway forest protection scheme.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: