Officer in Charge of Operation at the Guyana Fire Service, Compton Sparman taking the stand on MondayDeadly prison riotBy Shemuel FanfairThe night before the deadly prison blaze which claimed the lives of 17 inmates, firemen were the recipients of insults and “missiles” while they attempted to battle fires set by inmates. These were the words of Officer in Charge of Operations at the Guyana Fire Service, Compton Sparman who described the March 3 events as “traumatic”.In relating his account of events to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the Camp Street Prison riot, Sparman explained that his team was observing all Standard Operating Procedures to contain the blazes even as bricks were hurled at many of his firemen. He also posited that for the first time he felt scared in his near 34 years of experience.“They were throwing bricks at us and threatening us … being a resident of Albouystown they were saying I know you…and when I get out, I will deal with you,” he stressed.“[We] felt threatened, but were given assurances by the prison authorities that they would ensure that security be maintained,” he further noted.“If the cells were breached, we would have been the targets simply because we were the ones extinguishing the fires,” Sparman told the CoI when questioned about threats to personal security.The Fire Officer also rejected previous claims that the water supply went out for a short time. Sparman revealed that at one point prisoners were using mattresses to prevent water from entering the facility. When questioned further over the Fire Service’s operations on the night, the Fire Officer emphasised that firemen could not barge in to rescue inmates as the Prison Service gave orders on the movement of prisoners.Sparman related to the Commission that Deputy Director of Prisons, Gladwin Samuels stated that the prisoners “didn’t want to come out” as they started the deadly blaze the next morning. When questioned further by the Attorney representing the Joint Services, Eusi Anderson, the Fire Officer admitted that he didn’t actually see the prisoners who were “screaming”, but he had repeatedly heard “a banging on the door”.In somewhat of a contrast to some of the accounts supplied by inmates who testified, the Fire Officer suggested that it would have been difficult for prison officers to free the inmates, since the metal bars of the prison cells would’ve expanded with the heat from the fire, thereby inhibiting entry.Commissioners also heard that many of the responding officers who witnessed the dead bodies have been undergoing counselling to overcome the problems associated with their consequent disturbed sleeping patterns. At this point, Sparman recalled what he saw in a much lowered tone.He explained that the scenes of the riot were filled with “confusion and chaos” and noted the discoloured skin of many of the dead inmates.The Fire Officer surmised the cause of the fires and its associated causalities.“The fires were no doubt maliciously set, all three days because of the grievances [of the inmates],” he noted.As the CoI continues, Joint Service officers will testify throughout the week.
Government is collaborating with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN)Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummingsto revise the Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Guyana.The objectives of the two-day workshop which commenced on Tuesday at the Cara Lodge Hotel in Georgetown, are to preserve the health and nutrition situation of Guyana; present the findings from the evaluation of the existing food based dietary guidelines; determine priority issues to be addressed, through the revision of the FBDGs; and to establish a national FDBG task force.FAO’s representative in Guyana, Reuben Robertson said while the Organisation has been widely known for its close association with the agriculture sector, it has over the last four years seen to need to reconfigure and connect with the public Health Ministry and place significant emphasis on food, by ensuring that everyone, everywhere, has a right and access to good, safe and nutritious food.This commitment on food and nutrition, he said, has been heightened within recent times. Speaking directly to the representatives of Government Ministries, civil society and agencies, Robertson said each has an obligation to ensure that the commitments given are achieved.“All civil society and organisations, we have an obligation to ensure that the commitments are achieved. We would recognise that we as countries just last year, give a commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (one and two), where number two focuses on ensuring that food and nutrition security for all. We have an obligation to work together to ensure that we achieve these objectives,” he said.FAO, as an international organisation within the UN, is cognisant that nutrition is the mandate of the Public Health Ministry. However, it is too great an issue to be left for the Public Health Ministry alone. He said it requires an inter-ministerial, inter-sectoral collaboration.“… We have to meaningfully address the issues affecting our countries in terms of stunting, malnutrition, undernourishment and the ugly faces of non communicable diseases. We have been promoting good governance of food and nutrition security, it embraces the concept of all institutions, agencies, civil society and Private Sector, working together to achieve a common goal.”Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr Karen Cummings said Government, through her Ministry, is committed to seeing Guyanese eat healthily. According to Dr Cummings, essential to enjoying the good life, is being fit and healthy enough to enjoy it to the best of your ability.“Therefore, as a Government and a Ministry, we have placed great emphasis on nutrition and are committed and determined to ensuring that every Guyanese, not only understand the importance of eating healthy, but recognise that it is vital to practice healthy eating on a daily basis.Giving an overview of the exercise, FAO’s Regional Consultant, Dr Pauline Samuda said back in 1992, the FAO along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) established the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition and called upon Governments to promote appropriate diets and healthy lifestyles. Later in 1996, 180 countries approved the Rome Declaration on World Food Security. She said the UN and Governments across the world had declared that all people have a right to a nutritionally adequate diet at all times.Dr Cummings advanced her discussion, relating the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and productive life. This, she said, include growth and development, energy production and the maintenance of cellular and muscular integrity.While, underscoring the importance of nutrition and FBDGs, Samuda also pointed out that the Guidelines vary from country to country. In Guyana, the process for developing FBDGs began in 2002 and were finalised and launched in 2004. The process which was spearheaded by the Food Policy Division of the Health Ministry and assisted by a multisectoral Task Force, also received support from the Pan American Health Organisation.
Deadly Camp Street Prison riotBy Shemuel FanfairThroughout the execution of its mandate, the Camp Street Prison Commission of Inquiry (CoI) observed the need for continuous revision and updating of the nation’s laws. To this end, the CoI report has given recommendation for the revival of the Law Revision Commission (LRC). Established in 2014, the LRC, a body within the Legal Affairs Ministry, was tasked with ensuring that there was continuous revision of the Laws of Guyana.“The work of the [Camp Street Prison] Commission in a number of instances revealed a need for the constant updating of our legislation. Formerly this problem was addressed by a Law Commission whose job it was to look at the body of legislation that is current and tailor it for the exigencies of the future…the Commission is, therefore, recommending resuscitation of a standing Law Revision Commission,” an excerpt from the report stated.According to the Law Revision Act, Chapter 2:02, the Law Revision Commission is meant to have a chairman and no more than four other members whose functions shall be to: “prepare, publish, and maintain in accordance with this Act an edition of the laws of Guyana…”The CoI report suggested that unsystematic partial measures must not be employed when the Statues are being amended.“Piecemeal patching up of the Statutes of the State is to be discouraged,” the CoI added.The Prison CoI also stated that Sentencing guidelines must be formally approved, publicised, disseminated before being enforced.“Judges and Magistrates must be trained in application of sentencing guidelines,” Commissioners further observed.It was also recommended that judges and magistrates see visitation rights of prisoners as part of their obligation, adding that visits to prisons by the judges and magistrates must be viewed as a constitutive and obligatory aspect of their duties.The Commission also pointed out that there must be a minimum number of visits per year and that the Chancellor and Chief Justice should establish, implement and monitor these stipulations.It was also noted that the release of prisoners, who are on remand should be automatically released once the time served equals the sentence which the offence would have attracted. Further, maximum limits for the time in which inmates are on remand should be taken into consideration.It has been suggested that the high number of prisoners on remand is responsible for overcrowding in the Prison system. Figures released by the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) demonstrate that 258 prisoners were remanded by magistrates at the end of February 2016.Other recommendations to ensure reduction of overcrowding included the resolution of legal issues required, the abolishing of Preliminary Inquiries (PIs) as an urgent priority of the judiciary; a robust programme of community-based sentencing alternatives and a piloting of alternative and community-based sentences should be undertaken with women and juvenile offenders.The CoI came as a result of the deadly Camp Street prison riot in which it is believed inmates lit several fires which resulted in the death of 17 of their fellow prisoners.
The Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) has estimated that the State will be able to rake in .8 million in savings per year, following the installation of 65 energy efficient streetlights.The GEA recently replaced 65 High Pressure Sodium Vapor (HPSV) street lamps with 65 energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lamps as part of its ongoing energy efficiency programme.The HPSV lamps were rated at 250 watts each while the new LED lamps are rated at 100 watts each. The switch is expected to lead to significantly lower energy consumption rates. Fifty-eight of the lamps were installed at Timehri, while four and three were installed at the Umana Yana and Camp and Lamaha Streets, respectively.The Government presently operates about 6000 HPSV street lamps, rated at 250 watt and 5000 lamps within the different municipalities rated at 175 watts, which accrue a yearly operational cost of approximately $653.7 million per year while consuming 10.4 million kWh of energy.However, through the use of 100W LED lamps, it is possible to significantly reduce the cost that the current street lighting systems incur. It is estimated that the 65 LED lamps that were installed will reduce the annual energy consumption by 42,705 kWh, saving G$2,800,166.85 per year. The simple payback period for these lamps is 1.07 years and the lamps have an estimated lifespan of 11 years.In order to determine which lamp was best suited for use in the pilot project, studies were carried out by GEA’s engineers. The engineers, led by Energy Engineer Leon DeSouza, were assisted by a team of Engineers from the Public Infrastructure Ministry’s Street Light Division.“We were able to determine which lamps presented the best wattage and design to meet the necessary requirements,” explained DeSouza.He continued, “The energy efficient lamps compared were 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 Watt LED lamps and the 80, 100 and 120 Watt induction lamps. It was concluded that the 100 Watt LED lamps could be used for commercial roadways and 40 Watt LED lamps could be used for minor roads.”In keeping with its mandate to develop and encourage the development and utilisation of sources of energy other than sources presently in use and to carry out research into all sources of energy (including those sources presently used in Guyana), the GEA will continue to explore, install, and monitor energy efficient streetlight technologies with the aim of gaining knowledge and thereby make recommendations that will guide decisions with regards to street lighting.The GEA is calling on all municipalities, Neighbourhood Democratic Councils, and civic groups to take advantage of the benefits of energy efficiency by installing only energy efficient street lights.
A boy child is now a patient at the Linden Hospital Complex following an accident which led to him losing his right eye on Friday afternoon in Kwakwani, Berbice.Shavis WilsonThe boy, Shavis Wilson, 9, of Kwakwani is a student at the Kwakwani Primary School.Guyana Times understands that at about 17:00h the child was playing and tried to tug off a stick from some bushes when one of the branches struck him in the face.As a result of the impact, both of the boy’s eyes were punctured. His parents were informed of what had occurred and he was rushed to the Kwakwani Hospital.However, doctors their informed his parents that they were not equipped to deal with such situations and so the child was sent to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) by ambulance..The boy’s sister, Shaunel Wilson, told this publication that the injured lad and family waited for several hours before the ambulance showed up.Repeated calls were made to the LHC but all were met with “the ambulance is one its way”. However, in the wee hours of Saturday morning the child arrived in Linden and was immediately taken into surgery.After the surgery, the doctors informed the parents that they were unable to save his right eye and are uncertain what the condition of the other eye was.The family would have to wait for days before the condition of his left eye would be revealed.Speaking to this publication, his distraught parents relayed their uncertainty for him ever seeing again. Michelle Wilson, sitting at his bedside said that he was still unconscious. “The doctors said that they operated on his left eye but we are uncertain what the results would be when he wakes up”.
Guyana has established joint commissions with several African and Asian countries in its bid to expand its diplomatic connections throughout the world.Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge said the initiative was born on the sidelines of the 71st United Nations General Assembly in New York through meetings between members of the Guyanese delegation and senior Government officials from other countries.Foreign Affairs Minister Carl GreenidgeSome of the countries with which Guyana has entered into joint commissions are Spain, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria, according to the Foreign Affairs Minister.“We would have drawn to their attention the various challenges we have, what our plans are as regards UN, our expectations, what arrangements we would like to have with them in terms of economic diplomacy and what types of cooperation we would want to have with them in terms of educational cooperation, cultural exchanges, the sale of products, opening of markets, and in all those cases, we did agree to establish joint commissions,” Greenidge stated.He explained that each country would appoint teams to meet annually to implement the tasks as agreed upon by the Heads of Government.Thereafter, a review of this process will take place to assess the progress made in strengthening diplomatic relations among the nations involved.Only recently, Guyana entered a joint commission with Trinidad and Tobago as well as Saudi Arabia.Barbados and Guyana have also signed a Third Joint Commission, which is intended to foster cooperation in tourism and other sectors.
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has finally accomplished the quest to give allow their political leader, Mr. George M. Weah, to contest for the Senate in the upcoming Special Senatorial Election. However, this move had been scorned by the party’s critics, with some saying that it was just a “whitewash attempt” as Mr. Weah had long selected himself for the post and no one dare question his authority if they want to remain in the party.Weah contested in the party’s primaries at the weekend in Buchanan, Grand Basaa County and got the mandate his partisans to stand as a candidate for Montserrado County in the ensuing Special Senatorial Election early October.Weah booked his place for the hot seat unopposed and was amongst the first four candidates elected at the jammed packed hall.Other candidates elected include, former Unity Party stalwart and CDC newcomer Dr. Foday Kromah, Grand Cape Mount County, Nathaniel McGill, CDC secretary general secured his spot for Gbarpolu County while Prof. Ansu Sonii will lead the party for Margibi County, they all went unchallenged.In the most contested race, Cllr. Teplah Reeves defeated two other contenders, Emmanuel Toe and Rosina Shaack for River Cess County seat while Solomon Murrey was the lone candidate for Grand Bassa County, putting an end to speculation that CDC was prepared to support football star, James S. Debbah, who attempted joining the CDC to grab the seat. Results from the polls suggest that CDC has finally parted company with incumbent Senator Joyce Musu Sumo Freeman, who as well tender in her resignation early this month.Political commentators described the outcome as “unsurprised” due to the involvement of Mr. Weah and other strong members of the CDC, who already expressed their desire to stand in the election prior to the primaries. CDC partisans at the rally termed it as “Peaceful and Democratic”, expressing their desire to engage the upcoming election with every available political material to ensure that candidates contesting emerge as winners.Weah is expected to face challenges from fellow contenders, the first family candidate Robert Sirleaf and Christopher Neyor, both former employees of National Oil Company of Liberia and are kin on representing Montserrado at the Legislature.Meanwhile, primaries for Bomi and Maryland Counties were postponed based on series of protest emerging from the respective location.CDC confirmed the postponement and announced that Bomi primary will take place this weekend at the party’s headquarters in Monrovia to avoid further violence.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
As part of its effort to promote Liberia’s investment opportunities, the National Investment Commission (NIC), has entered into an agreement with Liberty Finance, a Liberian micro finance institution. The Agreement called for the provision of financial opportunities to medium and small investors across the country.In a chat with journalists recently at his Mamba Point office in Monrovia, NIC Chairman Michael S. Wotorson said his entity wants to place a great deal of focus on Liberian Institutions and businesses.The exercise, according to Wotorson, is to promote Liberian businesses but also not to discriminate against foreign businesses.He said, it was important to provide more opportunities for Liberian businesses and institutions to strengthen the country’s financial capacity.“If you invest in medium and small businesses to expand and stand stronger, you will change economic growth for the better, because you are providing opportunities for many people at a lower level.”“What I try to do at the NIC is to place a great deal of focus on our interactions with Liberian institutions and businesses, not that I want to discriminate against foreign businesses. I think it is extremely important that we provide more financial spaces for Liberian institutions,” he added.At NIC, Mr. Wotorson said, there is something his administration formulated called the ‘special investment incentives.’ “This package is a basic idea that when a business comes to us, and before we even look at the owner’s application, we require you to go out and enter into a relationship with a technical vocational Educational institution, like the Liberia Opportunities Industrialization Center (LOIC) or the Monrovia Vocation Training Center (MVTC), and establish an agreement with them.”Thereafter, he said, the NIC had requested foreign investors to hire certain number of graduates from these training centers and subsequently promote those graduates to leadership and managerial positions in a way that will be monitored and quantified.“So we actually tell you that within a certain period of time that we want to see [certain] number of people you took from LOIC placed in these kind of positions, and we don’t let you agree verbally but we allow you sign an agreement with LOIC or MVTC and bring that agreement to us,” he indicated.He said the NIC also wants foreign investors set up agreements with businesses that are majority (at least 51%) owned by Liberians, to procure as many of their needed items as possible. “Lastly, we will require you to sign an agreement with us that says everything we require you to do, you will agree to do it. Once we have done all of those things, we will now look at your application and evaluate it and determine whether or not you are eligible and you receive a special investment incentive, the NIC Chairman said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
No matter the language, the verdict is the same. There can be no progress without peace, no growth without peace, no development without peace and no healing without peace and forgiveness.The outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus will not be burnt out without peace and the cooperation of everyone.It would take a super human coordinated effort from everyone and the support from international community, working in unity, cohesion and in peace time to burn out Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the region. We need this synergy to combat Ebola disease.Over the weekend, Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, through funding support from Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, conducted a three-day Ebola Education Outreach Program in four communities, including Clara Town, Newport, Buchanan and Carey Streets. The outcome of the education outreach was frightening as we discovered that most young people are still in denial and have limited information on the spread of Ebola, symptoms, prevention and control measures.Sometimes, in unprecedented situations like this, we might have to look back, especially at the epicenter of the outbreak, to see where we are going and how we are doing. We need to re-examine our strategy to curb this disease. We also need to examine the integrated nature of EVD and its interconnectedness. The death of one Liberian affects us all.It is our opinion that the spread of EVD is systemic and we need a systemic approach to deal with it. To prevent and control EVD, the Government of Liberia (GOL) needs to develop an excellent contact tracking system, to include weekly reporting and solicitation of support from members of the public. We need to enforce the quarantine of persons who have come in close contact with infected individual(s); we need a good laboratory system to address the issue of false negative laboratory results and we need improved as well as increase access to and strengthen our health care facilities. Efforts should be put in place to normalize governance and address on going austerity measures. The closure of schools and other public institutions affects our livelihood.As young people, we do have a major role to play in the prevention and control of EVD. The disease has put a severe strain on our health system, our health workers and others.We need to show restraints and adhere to measures put in place by authorities. Don’t put your family and other community in danger; don’t go around to others if you are exhibiting symptoms of Ebola. Call the health hotlines immediately and listen to your health workers; they know best how to help you.There is need for order and orderliness. Patience, as our overwhelmed first responders put in place control measures. High standards of hygiene practices should be encouraged. We are happy to see the use of chlorinated water and soap in public places.The need for tolerance, respect, and discipline during this unusual time cannot be overemphasized. Most importantly, we need to give support to individuals, families, communities, national and international assistance.Ultimately, like all viral diseases, Ebola would burn itself out, don’t get burnt out with it. Be part of a collective action to burn out Ebola from the region. According to Kwame Nkrumah-the former President of Ghana- “We face neither East not West, We face forward”We are grateful for the support received thus far, especially with the news to give the drug ZMapp to infected persons in Liberia. There is need to do more. We concur with President Obama that the Ebola virus, is controllable if we have a strong public health infrastructure. At MOP, we believe we can burn out Ebola if we have a resilient young population to provide much need education, help dispel rumors and allay fear.Until next week, Peace First, Peace, above all, May Peace PrevailShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Liberia’s jiffy football giant — FC Fassell, Mr. Cassell A. Kuoh, has said that the exceptionally hot weather in Bamako, Mali attributed to their narrow 4-3 defeat to Horoya AC of Guinea in the CAF Cup competition.The FC Fassell owner said according to medical reports, some of the players suffered from heat cramps, while others were under the weather (sick) owing to a rapid drop in blood pressure and loss of fluid and salt through perspiration.The FC Fassell financier gave these explanations on Wednesday in an interview with the Daily Observer, in Monrovia.“We could not cope with the hot weather and the three days’ acclimatization did not help us,” Mr. Kouh said. “Some of our dependable players fell ill owing to the sun which caused their body temperatures (pressure) to rise.”He added: “The blood pressure changes put the body under strain and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.”Mr. Kouh further said inexperience caused the first-comer (FC Fassell) to be crushed, coupled with the language problem (French speaking).“The host and match officials spoke French – and most of the fouls and goals were moot,” Mr. Kouh said. “However, we must thank the Mali Federation Association for hosting us and our technical staff and players.”He stated that though his side lacked experience, he hailed them for their confidence in the two games which ended 1-0 and 3-3, respectively that led to their ousting in a 4-3 aggregate.Founded in 1975, Horoya AC appeared six times in the African Cup of Champions Clubs; seven times in the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup and made the appearance of three each in the CAF Champions League and CAF Cup, respectively as well as in the West African Cup championship.Both games were played in Bamako as a neutral ground for the two Ebola-hit countries.The Confederation of African Football (CAF), because of the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), delocalized football activities in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia thus forcing clubs participating in CAF competitions to find neutral venues for their respective home matches.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)