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Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon described the Interagency Task Force Operation to search for a boat, which was seen at sea with a number of dead people inside, as a “colossal failure.”
The boat was seen drifting at sea approximately 112 nautical miles from Georgetown on February 15, 2021 – however, three days after, the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD), which spearheaded the joint operation, suspended the search as the boat could not have been found. It was last seen on the night of February 15.
Weighing in on the issue on the sidelines of a meeting at the Guyana Police Force’s Headquarters, the Opposition Leader said the entire operation was a “mess.”
“I think the whole operation is a colossal failure; it is a colossal mess,” he said in response to a question posed by Village Voice News.
He said apart from the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, there is a National Security Advisor, in the person of Captain Gerry Gouveia, who ought to have provided adequate advice.
Further to that, he said the move to suspend the search after days of coming up empty handed, is an indication that there was a lack of intelligence.
“This again is another issue where you have a failure of intelligence, a boat seen, then it is not seen; a boat with dead people appear, then the boat with dead people disappear, and the most ridiculous explanation that you are given, is that this thing might have come from Africa, and it disappeared,” Harmon told reporters.
But Harmon believes that there is more in the mortar than the pestle, as he hinted at a possible link between people he said are reportedly missing on the East Coast of Demerara, and those seen in the boat.
“We believe that there is something else, that there is something else, that there is more to the mortar than the pestle,” he said.
The Opposition Leader would then add: “There are reports from some citizens in some areas along the East Coast, who actually have been searching for relatives. So the Police, and the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Public Works, they know more than they have said to us in the public, they know more.”
He said the Opposition will keep pressing for answers.
MARAD suspended the search for the boat on February 18. Upon learning of the gruesome discovery, MARAD had asked an ExxxonMobil vessel to bring it ashore but that proved to be extremely challenging, and within hours the vessel was no longer insight.
But it was not until the next day, more than 14 hours after that the Government launched an search operation, by which time the boat was long gone.
MARAD with support from the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force and the Private Sector had mobilized a number of vessels to locate, and tow the boat into port but they were a bit too late.
MARAD said has since published a Navigational Warning via the US NATIONAL GEOSPATIAL-INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (NGA) informing all vessel in the general area to be on the lookout for a vessel adrift and to report any sighting.
It also sent emails to several equivalent organisations seeking their assistance in identifying the boat and the remains of those on board. It also informed the Administration in Trinidad and Tobago to notify vessels about the boat, since the direction of the ocean current can possibly take it to this country.