‘Balanced, impartial & thorough’ examination of Mahdia tragedy promised through CoI

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President Dr. Irfaan Ali promised affected families and Guyanese at large a “balanced, impartial and thorough” examination into the circumstances surrounding the tragic fire at the female dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School in Region Eight (Potaro- Siparuni) that claimed the lives of 20 children.

The President made the commitment on Thursday after the members of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) were sworn in at the Office of the President.

Major General (Ret’d), Joe Singh (the Chairman of the CoI) alongside Chairman of the National Toshaos Council (NTC), Derrick John and attorney, Dr. Kim Kyte- Thomas were sworn in.

Additionally, attorney Javed Shadick will serve as the Secretary of the CoI. Chief Magistrate (ag), Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus administered the Oath of Office to the Commissioners.

The 20 victims of the Mahdia Secondary School dorm fire

President Ali acknowledged that the tragedy was one that plunged the entire country in mourning.

“Our entire nation was thrown into deep grief but none more grave than the families of those who lost loved ones in the fire,” the Head of State said.

He, however, believes that the time is right to conduct that “balanced, impartial and thorough” examination of the fire and the events surrounding it.

According to President Ali, his government wanted to give the families enough time and space before pursuing a CoI that could potentially “aggravate” their trauma.

Now that the CoI will be done, the President asked persons to cooperate with the Commissioners and he also urged the Commissioners to work diligently.

President Ali later told reporters that the Commissioners will visit Region Eight as part of their inquiry; a traditional Patamona ceremony is expected to be done at the site where the tragedy occurred before the Commission begins its work.

Additionally, President Ali said the work of the Commission should span about two months though he is intent on extending that period if the need arises.

Previously, Dr. Ali said the findings of the CoI will inform government’s actions moving forward as it continues to provide support to the affected families and communities.

In May, 19 girls and a five-year-old boy lost their lives in the fire that destroyed the building. Several others were injured with one 13-year-old girl still receiving care abroad.

It was reported that the fire was started by a young student who has since been charged with 20 counts of murder.

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