I write to you today with a heart heavy with frustration and an urgent plea for accountability regarding the alarming fire situation that unfolded at the Skeldon Market on Monday, 27 November 2023. The events of that day have left me deeply disheartened by the apparent inadequacies in the response from the Municipality of Corriverton, the Central Government, and the Police/Fire Service.
Let me commence with an impassioned expression of dismay directed by the Mayor of Corriverton, whose camera-friendly facade masks a disturbing indifference towards the issues plaguing the Skeldon Market. As the very fabric of our community smolders, the mayor’s failure to address critical concerns is glaring. Instead of combating the bloodsucking mosquito infestation that has befallen the market, he has left us to fend for ourselves, a failure that resonates deeply with each affected resident and vendor.
Consider a market sprawling over 0.41 kilometers, a lifeline for countless individuals, yet bereft of a single fire hydrant. In times of crisis, the absence of this basic safety measure is a damning testament to the mayor’s neglect. The fire hydrant opposite Skeldon Park, standing impotent and dry, further emphasizes his disregard for our community’s well-being. In this crucial aspect, he has not only failed us but exposed our vulnerability to a potential catastrophe.
When pressed by NCN-Berbice about his engagement with vendors during the critical hours, the mayor’s response painted a disconcerting picture of a leader more interested in mayoral charm for officials than in addressing the dire neglect experienced by residents. The disconnect revealed in his words underscores the urgency for change in leadership that genuinely prioritizes the welfare of the community. I hope the PPP/C leadership looks into this.
Editor, I appeal to you to amplify the voices of the countless vendors who have suffered immeasurable losses. Editor, one vendor is currently in the ICU unit of the Skeldon hospital. I believe your viewers will empathize with the anguish that permeates every corner of the Skeldon Market. Is this the change promised by the PPP/C for the residents of Corriverton? The disillusionment is palpable, and it is time for our leaders to be held accountable for their shortcomings and to deliver on the promises made to the citizens they serve.
I am also compelled to shed light on the utter disregard displayed by the Minister of Finance during his recent, seemingly empty, walk-around and inspection at the Skeldon Market. His camera-ready presence did little to mask the stark reality of a government that, after 26 years in power, has failed miserably to uplift our country in even the smallest of ways. It’s a painful truth – nothing seems to work in this country, be it the health service or, most critically, the fire service.
As the flames devoured stalls across the market, the Minister of Finance appeared utterly unconcerned, detached from the palpable frustration that has gripped our community. It is a frustration born not only from the lack of preventative measures over more than two decades but also from the glaring incompetence of the very institutions meant to protect us.
True to the all-too-familiar script, the fire trucks arrived without sufficient water, necessitating multiple trips back and forth to refill tanks while the inferno continued its destructive dance. The sheer incompetence displayed in this crucial moment is maddening. Their desperate attempt to use ocean water resulted in further chaos, damaging and dirtying the stalls of countless vendors who work hard to provide for their families.
Compounding the tragedy, the behavior exhibited by the Police Officers on the scene is a harrowing testament to the erosion of decency. In the throes of escalating frustration, they descended into violence against vendors struggling to salvage goods from the engulfing flames. Rather than shielding those in desperate need, they brazenly targeted and hit innocent bystanders and vendors, callously disregarding the true malefactors – the thieves and smugglers exploiting the chaotic backdrop to pilfer and thieve from diligent, hardworking individuals.
There is an alarming disconnect in temperament, emotion, and empathy demonstrated by government officials, including the Mayor, towards the people of the Skeldon Market. While they live their entitled lives, we suffer the consequences of their failures every single day.
This stark disparity in privileges is a bitter pill to swallow. While Ministers and Government Officials enjoy the luxury of private security and healthcare, we, the less fortunate, are left to contend with the ineptitude of the fire and police services. It’s a stark reality that underscores the gaping chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
The vote of no-confidence in the Fire and Police services has resonated powerfully across the nation, echoing the sentiments of a populace fed up with broken promises. Successive governments have pledged reform, but regretfully, substantive change remains elusive. It’s a disheartening truth that leaves us, the ordinary citizens, vulnerable and exposed.
In this climate of uncertainty, my thoughts turn to Essequibo, where the residents are at the mercy of the Guyana Police Force. Should the specter of a Venezuelan invasion loom, there is a chilling realization that this police force, burdened by its own inadequacies, may prove incapable of safeguarding anyone. The implications are dire, and the plea for change, for a security apparatus that can truly protect its people, has never been more urgent.
Angel D’angelo Persaud