Cummings Lodge fire victims seek compensation
By Leroy Smith
The Fire Insurance policy for the University off-Campus Lodge is said to have been expired since the early part of 2016, however, tenants of the Cummings Lodge Apartment building which was completely destroyed by fire last night said they were told the building was insured.
This morning (Saturday, January 14, 2017), the tenants told the News Room that they are seeking compensation because when they first took up residence at the building, they were told that the building was insured but it was only after the fire, they learnt that the policy was not renewed since the first quarter of last year.
A dentist, who also lived in one of the apartments told the News Room that for years he has been complaining about a faulty bulb in his one-bedroom apartment but nothing was done. He said that the bulb would spark and then smoke and he has a routine of replacing bulbs every two weeks.
“Dis does be a normal routine with de landlord. When you tell he certain things he does tek years, I had to get a lack pon tap me door, I tell dis man, dis man tek like ova three years before he put on a lack” of the displaced tenants told the News Room during our visit on Saturday morning.
Final year University of Guyana Law Student, Yonika Rowland explained that she was not at her apartment when the fire started but based on the previous reports of electrical issues with one of the apartments, she thinks that compensation should be in order.
“I was in Linden but I heard about the fire. I am living here almost three years now. I lost some of my documents, text books, all school materials, fridge, stove and my brother had about $60,000, all are gone. All we are asking now is how we can be compensated. The landlord is saying that the insurance expired but we are hearing contrary to that but we need to hear a firm decision on what he will do” she asserted.
Among those who also suffered were Medical students from India who are also attending the University of Guyana. They claimed to have lost documents also including passports. They have however made contact with the embassy informing them of the incident.
Teracharran Balgobin who owns the building was also at the location this morning (Saturday, January 14, 2017). He told the News Room that he is being honest about the expiration of the insurance but cannot say exactly what month the policy expired.
“At the moment the insurance of the building is expired, expired since last year and has not been renewed . I cannot say which month but we are trying to find the papers” he related.
He said that he cannot discuss much, about the insurance policy but explained that when the insurance was intact, it was full fire coverage. He denied claims that the building or any apartment of the building has electrical issues as according to him, each apartment is fitted with its own metering system.
Last evening a fire which lasted for over an hour, completely destroyed several one bedroom dwellings on the apartment which has left approximately thirty persons, students of the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) and the University of Guyana (U.G) homeless.
There are claims that the fire service responded promptly but without adequate water, while the Guyana Power and Light (G.P.L) came twenty minutes after the fire, all of which contributed to the complete destruction.
The young professionals are now pondering their next move.