President Irfaan Ali has selected Major General (ret’d) Joe Singh to lead the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the devastating Mahdia Secondary School dormitory fire, which claimed the lives of 20 children.
The Head of State made this disclosure on the sidelines of an event held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Tuesday. President also revealed that he would be meeting with the victims’ families.
“We’re finalising it now. I have a meeting with the team, and I have identified Major General Joe Singh to lead that team,” President Ali said.
The APNU/AFC Opposition has been clamouring for a COI into the deadly fire, noting that it will adequately address the pressing concerns of our nation while ensuring that there are no lingering doubts or unanswered questions in the minds of our citizens.
Moreover, Opposition Parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul had filed a motion with the National Assembly, calling on the government to construct a monument at the Mahdia Secondary School dormitory, where the children died.
Mahipaul also asked that the Ali-led administration declare the dormitory location a historical memorial site, which is gazetted under the Guyana National Trust for maintenance and upkeep.
The devastating Mahdia dormitory fire started on May 21, but the children’s escape was curtailed because the building was heavily grilled and padlocked.
The Guyana Fire Service (GFS) had flagged the dormitory as a hazard in November of last year and February of this year. But nothing was done.
Moreover, a report commissioned by the Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, on the state of the dorms across the country with the assistance of UNICEF and the Canadian High Commission found the absence of fire safety measures, unsatisfactory conditions and the dire need for counselling for those at the Mahdia dormitory.
There have been calls for Ministers with the preview of the dorm to be held accountable, but President Ali has been playing a deaf ear. Besides, several picketing exercises were held.
A 15-year-old girl was charged with the fire but denied the allegation.