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In a staggering display of ugly politics, ineptitude, and disregard for the safety of Guyana’s children, the recent Presidential Commission of Inquiry (COI) report on the Mahdia dormitory fire, led by Chairman Joe Singh, stands as a disgraceful litany of lies. This document, which shamefully shifts blame and skirts responsibility, is nothing short of a betrayal to the memory of the 20 innocent schoolgirls who perished in the tragic fire.
The report, while finding ‘grave neglect’ of the dormitory facilities under the APNU+AFC government, is a masterclass in obfuscation and deflection. It shamelessly attempts to absolve current authorities of any wrongdoing, instead placing undue emphasis on past administrations’ failures. This selective amnesia conveniently overlooks the fact that the ongoing safety of Guyana’s children is a continuous responsibility, not a political baton to be passed and dropped at will.
What’s more, the report’s findings offer a hollow echo of the 2017 report when it has been documented that a 2020 UNICEF report was handed over to Minister of Education Priya Manickchand with which she did nothing.
Let us recall that Priya Manickchand faced severe criticism following last year’s Stabroek News report entitled `UNICEF review of school dorms last year highlighted myriad deficiencies’ for failing to have the recommendations for the dormitories implemented. At that time, Manickchand responded that “speculation at this time is not helpful” in response to the backlash. Today the hapless COI team absolved Manickchand of her alleged gross dereliction of duty which resulted in the deaths of 20 indigenous children.
The glaring inaction following this report is a testament to a systemic failure that remains squarely in the lap of the PPP government Yet, Major General (rtd) Joe Singh and his commission chose to tread a path of political expediency, offering a skewed narrative that reeks of partisanship.
In doing so, the report fails the victims of this tragedy and all the children of Guyana who rely on their leaders for protection and safety. By turning a blind eye to the continuous neglect and by engaging in a blame game, the COI has shown a gross disregard for the welfare of the country’s most vulnerable.
The tragedy of the Mahdia dorm fire is a story of a singular event but a narrative of continued negligence and a lack of genuine commitment to rectify systemic issues. The COI’s attempt to paint a picture of proactive measures by the current administration is a mere smokescreen, disguising the grim reality of a situation where political interests are placed above children’s safety.
In a country where the future generation should be nurtured and safeguarded, the COI report on the Mahdia dormitory fire, and those endorsing it, stand as a glaring symbol of a failed system. It is a stark reminder that until those in power shun the veil of deceit and genuinely commit to the welfare of all children, tragedies like Mahdia are not just past incidents, but looming threats.
Citizens of Guyana must demand accountability and transparency and refuse to accept such disgraceful narratives that make a mockery of governance and, more importantly, the lives of our children. For the sake of the lost souls of Mahdia and the living dreams of every Guyanese child, this report must be called out for what it truly is, a shameful shroud of deception.