‘An embarrassment to our country’ – former minister says of alleged theft from crash landed Fly Jamaica

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Former Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has described the recent theft of several items from the Fly Jamaica aircraft that crash-landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Timehri on Friday as an act of international notoriety that puts Guyana in a bad light.

The former minister expressed his disappointment at having to learn about the “wholesale theft” of personal properties belonging to the crew and passengers of the crash-landed Fly Jamaica aircraft allegedly committed by ranks of the Guyana Fire Service.

“What is even (more) appalling is the fact that fire fighters, who are internationally recognised as first responders, are expected to uphold humanitarian goals and practices in life-threatening situations where persons’ lives are at risk or (are) endangered due to natural or man-made disasters,” Rohee said.

“For Guyanese first responders under the guise of fire-fighters to act in such an irresponsible and disgraceful manner is to bring the noble service of fire-fighting into disrepute. To steal from crew members and passengers at a time when they had to ‘run for their lives’ from a crashed passenger airplane is a crying shame and a grave embarrassment to our country and people,” Rohee declared.

Rohee described it as a despicable act which has once again brought into sharp focus the much debated question of trust and respect for ranks of the disciplined services. “This time it is the Guyana Fire Service that has reignited the public confidence debate, not because of acts of heroism or magnanimity by its ranks, but because of acts by its own ranks that have damaged (its credibility) irreparably,” he stated.

The former Minister said that by defaming their badges, which serve as a symbol of public faith, and by sullying the public’s trust in the Fire Service, the ranks involved in petty theft while aboard the crashed aircraft abandoned the lofty ethics of the Guyana Fire Service.

He added that the incidents of theft perpetrated on the international aircraft by ranks of the Fire Service must have brought home to Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle the need for more intense screening of applicants, and rigorous, on-going training for recruits to the GFS.

“Strict supervision of junior ranks by a senior, experienced officer at all times, especially in operational situations as the one involving the Fly Jamaica (aircraft), is of critical utmost importance. Finally, it is imperative that ‘the fire fighter’s prayer’ be drilled into the heads of every new recruit, so that he or she, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and under the most difficult circumstances, will at all times uphold the noble ideals enshrined in the said prayer,” he concluded.

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