5 injured as dilapidated structure at Stabroek Market wharf collapses

…infrastructure investment in city not maintained – Pres Ali
…calls for collective leadership to manage city

President Dr. Irfaan Ali has expressed deep apprehensions regarding the Mayor and City Council’s ability to manage crucial infrastructure and investments in the city.
These concerns have been amplified in the wake of the collapsed roof of the dilapidated Stabroek Market Wharf, where five individuals sustained injuries due to the collapse of a dilapidated structure.
The collapse occurred on Wednesday morning causing panic among vendors and shoppers alike.
Eyewitnesses recalled that at around 10:15h, a loud crackling sound was heard, and then seconds later, the old wooden structure came crashing down. While several persons jumped overboard, a few individuals became trapped beneath the fallen wood and zinc.
Officials have since confirmed that the five persons were transported to the hospital and received medical treatment for minor injuries. Up to news time on Wednesday, there were no reports of major injuries or fatalities.
A large number of persons were occupying the area, even though for years, they had been warned and instructed to vacate. In fact, at the wharf, a sign was erected, informing persons that the area had been condemned and vendors were not supposed to ply their trade there. But apart from vendors, persons were also living on the wharf.
The scene was visited by President Ali, Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, Local Government Minister, Sonia Parag, City Mayor Alfred Mentore, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, and city councillors.
The incident has prompted questions about the maintenance and oversight of such vital structures, raising doubts about the City Constabulary’s effectiveness in ensuring public safety.
Immediate action
President Ali while assessing the damages emphasised the need for immediate action and accountability in addressing infrastructure challenges in the city. He underscored the government’s commitment to rectify existing shortcomings and prevent similar incidents in the future.
“We’re discussing right now…the issue of key assets within the city that are not being maintained, that are left in a state that is dangerous to the city and we’ll have to decide how we address those key assets,” President Ali stated.
He added, “we have to make some very strategic decisions on key assets in the city… if we continue to have situations like these where the maintenance and protection of the infrastructures is not addressed then health and safety becomes a major issue. I think the time has come for a very serious and mature conversation…the city is not in position and from a management position…the mayor needs to work closer to the council in a collective way, because from a leadership perspective too [they’re] in no capacity to manage some of these key infrastructure and investment in the city.”
Meanwhile, Benn spoke to reporters about the need to ensure further damages are avoided.
“What we were asking is that the site be isolated and that we work with the City Constabulary to secure the site. We ask that they pay attention to removing the rubble that is out there and making the site safe. The firefighters and the fireboat will be alongside… going forward we will have to make sure that they have steps to make sure the area is safe…”, he said.
The Georgetown Mayor and City Council, in conjunction with the Central Government, will collaborate to address the situation, according to Mayor Mentore.
“It’s something that we have to take in general and we have to work and find solutions as a collective to be able to deal with this issue,” Mentore said.
The dilapidated structure had been rendered unusable for an extended period, a detail emphasised by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Sonia Parag while on the site. She said in a recent inspection of the market, vendors voiced anxieties about safety, adding weight to the urgency for addressing infrastructure concerns. (G9)