Mahdia tragedy

Dear Editor,
It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I express sincere condolences to the immediate families, relatives and friends, and the community of Mahdia as a collective, on the tragic death of 19 young students who were trapped in a dormitory fire.
As a community, as a nation, we are all in shock as we join with you in grief over this devastating event.
No amount of platitudes and expressed compassion would ever be enough to comprehend the grief and pain that you, the families, are experiencing during this difficult time. However, despite our inabilities, we offer our deepest sympathy and love to the families who have lost their loved ones in this terrible tragedy.
We truly understand that nothing can ease the pain of losing a loved one, and you will need time to heal and come to grips with this reality. However, we want to assure you that our community and all conscious-minded Guyanese are here to support and stand with you during this difficult time. We offer our thoughts and prayers to those who are grieving, and ask that you do not hesitate to lean on us for support.
As we process this tragedy, we all must also take proactive steps to ensure that this never happens again. The Government and community leaders must take swift action to prevent future incidents from occurring in any part of the country. I believe some of the following measures can help prevent tragedies like this.
It is my humble view that regular inspections of such facilities are needed. Government and private officials must ensure that regular inspections of dormitories and other buildings are conducted to detect any potential hazards.
Fire alarms and sprinklers should be installed. It is critical that we install fire alarms and sprinklers in all student dormitories. These early warning systems are essential in preventing fire disasters.
Fire Safety Education should be promoted in all learning institutions with a focus on educating students on how to safely exit a building on fire, and how to use electronic appliances and other hazardous materials.
Grilling of dormitory windows and doors should be prohibited. Dormitories are usually in fenced compounds. Those fences should be upgraded with barbed wires and security cameras around the building, and a security hut should have a monitor to observe the surrounding area.
Further, public awareness should be increased to report incidents of fire. Members of the public should be encouraged to immediately report incidents of fire, to prevent a minor incident of fire from becoming a catastrophe.
Fire extinguishers should be placed in all buildings where people congregate.
These proposed ideas, which can work along with many more that others will share, can help improve the safety of our children.
We encourage everyone in the community to work together to ensure that our environment is safe for all to live, work and study in.
We assure you that we will continue to make representation and take all necessary steps to prevent future tragedies, as we mourn the loss of our dear students.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, students, and the community affected by this tragedy.

Jermaine Figueira, MP