National Parks Commission did respond to emailed questions

Dear Editor,
We refer to the two most recent articles on the Zoological Park, published in the Sunday Stabroek, April 25 2010, captioned ‘Zoo aquarium gets facelift,’ and in Stabroek News on April 26, 2010, titled ‘NPC denies poor working conditions at zoo.’

It has been noted that in the edition of April 25 it was inaccurately reported that the National Parks Commission did not respond to an email requesting information on the Aquarium. The emailed questions related to the amount of funding allocated to the Aquarium, whether there were any plans in place to improve the facility and what had happened to the arapaima.

The National Parks Commission acknowledges receipt of an email from email address indicating that further questions would be sent not later than Thursday; we therefore waited on those questions before submitting our response. Further questions were never received and therefore our response was submitted on Friday morning addressing the questions addressed in the initial email.

Upon emailing our responses to the email address they were sent from, we then contacted Stabroek News by telephone to inform Ms Bharrat that the response had been emailed to her. Ms Bharrat was not in the office and as such a message was left with Mr Orlando Charles and Ms Tiffny Rhodius that the response had been sent to the above email address.

On Monday, April 26 Stabroek News inaccurately reported that there had been two strikes earlier this month. Below is the abstract of that article:

Caesar explained that the NPC was looking at getting a group insurance policy for the workers but was expecting staff to contribute. The NPC could not afford to pay the entire premium for the workers, he said, but it was prepared to cover 60 to 70 per cent of it. He further said that earlier this month there were two strikes. The strikes, according to Caesar, were triggered after armed robbers stole the workers’ salaries on April 9. Caesar said that management had suggested to workers that they get ATM cards but workers refused to pay even the $100 charge needed for the service.

Mr Caesar was referring to steps taken by the NPC to address the safety of staff following an armed robbery which took place in 2006, and the reaction of staff to the change of cash payments to payments through the bank using the ATM.

The point was being made to show the reluctance of staff to accept new interventions.

The article misleads the reader into thinking that the robbery took place recently and that strike action followed, missing the point of the statement.

We look forward to your urgent attention in having these reports corrected.

Yours faithfully,
Yolanda Vasconcellos
General Manager
National Parks Commission

Editor’s note

With reference to the email sent by the National Parks Commission to which Ms Vasconcellos refers, Ms Bharrat says it was not in her inbox at the email address given above on the Friday in question. That email is always open, and she was in the office until almost midnight. Following receipt of this letter, she also checked her spam mail to see if it had gone there, but did not locate it there either. Ms Tiffny Rhodius certainly recalls being asked to convey a message to Ms Bharrat that an email had been sent by the National Parks Commission, and says she left a note for her to that effect before leaving on an assignment. Unfortunately, Ms Bharrat never saw the note, which had she done so would have caused her to contact the National Parks Commission to tell them that the email had not been received. We can only assume that the email went to the wrong address, or some other technical glitch occurred when it was being sent.

As regards what Chairman of the National Parks Commission, Mr John Caesar, had to say in response to a question from Ms Bharrat cited above, we have listened to the tape recording of the press conference, and can find no reference by him to the year 2006 in connection with the armed robbery. What he actually said was, “there were two strikes earlier this year and you know why, because we had [an] armed robbery Friday afternoon…” It is this which supplied the date April 9, and caused Ms Bharrat to conclude that the strikes must have happened this month.

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