Camp Street fire, break-out was not an ‘accident waiting to happen’

Dear Editor,

President David Granger, in remarks noted in the press on the most recent Camp Street prison riot and destruction by fire, has described the event as “an accident waiting to happen”. This extraordinary comment came from a Head of State who, both in opposition and in government, has been a vociferous and insistent proponent for the holding of commissions of inquiry, the most recent of which is to enquire into the Guyana Police Force’s diligence or lack thereof, in pursuing investigations into an alleged plot on his life.

It apparently escapes the President’s attention or understanding that the burning of the prison buildings simultaneously at more than four locations; the escape of the most dangerous capital prisoners with weapons (who should not have been housed there); the lack of securing timely or effective supporting response from the fire, police military services and from senior government functionaries, inclusive of ministers; and the chaos, panic and confusion engendered as a result, could only have occurred because of planned, coordinated and deliberate action on the part of prison masterminds.

It is apt to note that the lack of action on all the recommendations of the previous Commission of Inquiry into the 2016 riot and arson at the same location, which resulted in the deaths of 17 prisoners, was repeated in the dismal response and renewed loss of life and property during the recent event.

What we all need to admit is that we  seem to have an ‘accidental’ President and government who are more concerned with personal comfort and silly grandeur, while pursing nebulous notions of governance – whenever they find the time to think about governing ‒ and thereby, putting at grave risk public safety and security.

The President and ministers seem to be asleep at the wheel on this and many other issues, and the despicable and crass attempt to blame the failure to spend the money recommended in the 2016 CoI on sugar is the lowest blow imaginable in the circumstances.

It goes without saying that the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, has to go.

But given his statement on “an accident waiting to happen” all bets are off that President Granger will take the necessary action to do what is right to ensure the safety of all Guyanese.

Yours faithfully,

Anjanie Seebarran

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