Mahdia tragedy: Capitalising on people’s grief is “unconscionable” – Jagdeo

Calling it an unconscionable act, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has slammed persons who have been capitalising on the grief of the Mahdia tragedy for political mileage.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, the Vice President called out actions to politicise the grief of those affected by the tragic Mahdia dormitory fire, less than one week after 19 children lost their lives.
It is an incident that shook the nation, as many families await the recovery of those who are still hospitalized with injuries.
“There is a time and place for everything. I want to urge those who have been so disrespectful to try to politicise this national tragedy and to capitalize on people’s grief as unconscionable. Any attempt to do so should be condemned by the entire public. We’ve seen it happen sometimes in veiled forms, and in other cases almost a flagrant open manner. Whatever the manifestation, whether by insinuation or by openly trying to politicize people’s grief, we must condemn this,” the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) General Secretary asserted.
The VP specifically mentioned Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton allegedly politicising the incident during an appearance in a media outlet in Trinidad and Tobago. Nevertheless, Jagdeo posited that the country will overcome this current devastation, reiterating that full support is being given to the bereaved.
“We will overcome this. The parents and all of the families know that the Government will stand by their side. There is a time and place for everything, and we will have all the answers in the future.”
He added, “We know this devastating loss has taken away the joy from so many families, and I want them to know that they can count on our unconditional support now and in the future. Since this has happened, a profound sadness has fallen on our country, and it’s almost palpable. Anywhere you go you feel it.”
As the country continues to mourn, Jagdeo said this year’s Independence Day celebrations will be subdued, but it is also a time for reflection.
The students who lost their lives are Tracil Thomas, Lisa Roberts, Delicia Edwards, Lorita Williams, Natalie Bellarmine, Arriana Edwards, Cleoma Simon, Subrina John, Martha Dandrade, Loreen Evans, Belnisa Evans, Mary Dandrade, Omerfia Edwin, Nickleen Robinson, Sherina Daniels, Eulander Carter, Andrea Roberts and Rita Jeffrey. The ages of the girls ranged between 12 and 17.
In addition, five-year-old Adanye Jerome, the son of dorm parents, also lost his life.
With several others injured, either hospitalized or discharged, families are still recovering from the shock. According to Jagdeo, this incident is the number one priority of the administration.
He told the media, “People don’t see what is happening behind the scene. They see a few pictures on social media and all of that and think that’s the extent of the work. This became the number one priority of the Government of Guyana: bringing comfort and support to those who are injured and the families of those who tragically died.”
In an earlier engagement, President Irfaan Ali also assured family members that the Government will ensure every step is taken to assist them following this tragedy.
“Every conceivable help, every conceivable assistance, every conceivable action that is required of the Government, we will do, we will support and we will ensure that we are with you, not only this day, but through this difficult time,” Ali was quoted as saying.
Initial investigations by the Guyana Fire revealed that the fire was maliciously set, and the origin was identified as the south-western end of the building. It is alleged that the fire was set by a student who was upset by the confiscation of her phone following concerns that the dorm administrators had with her behaviour.
On Tuesday, the Police stated that a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for advice on the way forward. The student accused of setting the fire remains under supervision. (G-12)