Benn on Eve Leary fire: ‘We will stand firm’


The Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn believes that the recent fires targeting the Police Force are politically motivated but he assured that the government will “stand firm.”

Benn was at the scene of a massive fire on Saturday that destroyed the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) which is housed at Eve Leary near the Police Headquarters.

Some of items saved from the building (Photo: Delano Williams/November 11, 2021)

Quick action by the firefighters averted a major disaster and they managed to contain the huge blaze and prevented it from spreading to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) which is also housed in the same compound.

Minister Benn’s statements come on the heels of another massive fire that destroyed 80 percent of the Brickdam Police Station in Georgetown last month. Benn on Saturday referenced comments made by local politicians in the United States recently.

“I have said publicly that it appears that a subliminal message is being put around the country starting from some pyrotechnic-minded person in the United States. And that maybe, perhaps, much more than likely that the incidents we see and the timings at which they occur are related the more than subliminal message about Georgetown will burn if the PPP don’t do whatever.

“But we will stand firm,” the Home Affairs Minister told the press.

L-R: Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie, Prime Minister Phillips, Minister Sonia Parag, Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn at the scene of the fire (Photo: Delano Williams/November 11, 2021)

He added: “We will make sure that the work of our government and through that, the development of our country proceeds.”

At this point, Minister Benn noted that there will be high vigilance “throughout all the services” to ensure such an event does not reoccur.

He said, “It appears that we are experiencing a trial by fire again in Guyana.”

The report of the fire at Eve Leary was received at 13:50hrs and according to the Fire Chief (ag), Kalamadeen Edoo, five fire tenders immediately responded and quickly kicked into action. Firefighters had no issue finding a water source but while Edoo praised the work of the ranks, Minister Benn was not pleased with their efforts.

In a direct response to their performance, he said, “I am not happy.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police (ag), Nigel Hoppie said the blaze appeared to have started in the area that houses ranks who stay at the Police headquarters.

Though the OPR building was gutted, the Top Cop assured that cases will not be affected as the files are being stored elsewhere.

Persons removing items from the building

“Most, if not all of the cases, have connections to several divisions also because, as you are aware, we have decentralised Office of Professional Responsibility that is in every region throughout the country,” the Police Commissioner told reporters at the scene.

Volumes of important files and case jackets pertaining to matters that are before the courts were speared from the inferno due to the valiant efforts by staffers from the DPP’s office and other officials.

At one point, the staffers even resorted to throwing hundreds of files from the upper flat of the building in an effort to save them.  The DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack was at the scene but did not speak to reporters, however, her Communications Officer Liz Rahaman explained that 98 per cent of the files were salvaged.

But now, both the OPR and DPP are left in a state of confusion and over the next weeks, efforts will be focused on getting both agencies back on track.

Several Ministers of Government were present at the scene including Minister of Education Priya Manickchand; Minister of Governance Gail Teixeira, Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall and Prime Minister Mark Phillips.

While the Prime Minister declined to comment on whether this fire was linked to the Brickdam Police Station blaze, he assured that a full-scale investigation will be launched.

“The investigation will help us to determine whether it’s coincidental or if there is some other motive or reason behind this fire, so we need to allow the fire service and the police and the law enforcement agencies to do their work.”

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