By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Following claims by several survivors of the deadly Camp Groomes explosion in 2000; who allege that they have not received any meaningful compensation for their injuries and their monthly $35,000 pension for the month of January, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Brigadier Mark Phillips has vowed to have the matter investigated immediately.
Brigadier Phillips was unaware of the allegation until approached by the media on Tuesday morning (February 11) but immediately expressed his disappointment and apologized on behalf of the Force.
He recalled that pensions, gratuity and medical attention for the survivors who were rendered ‘medically unfit’ to work were approved by the Defence Board.
The army in a statement in 2013 had claimed that it was a mistake that the men were removed from the payroll and had committed to having it corrected.
This is the 14th anniversary since the GDF ammunition bond exploded; killing three ranks and injuring several others who were at the time manning the Force’s three-storey weapons bond.
Three survivors have recently complained in one section of the media that the injuries sustained rendered them unable to work and wonder how they will be able to survive if it is true that they have been removed from the Army’s payroll.
The GDF had taken a position initially to have the persons injured in the explosion to be paid monthly by the Force until they attain the age of retirement.
Recently proposals surfaced for the ranks to appear before a Medical Board and be discharged as ‘ceasing to fulfill medical standards’, so that they can begin to receive benefits without having to wait until they are retired; a decision which the Army Chief said the Defence Board agreed to.
According to the injured soldiers, this has not been fulfilled. The survivors claimed that they did receive various sums of money that were promised and others were subjected to deductions which became very inadequate.