Six containers of relief supplies were shipped on Tuesday to hurricane-affected islands, while another three have already been packed and are awaiting shipment. Two more are currently being packed.
The first six containers carry important items such as: rice, sugar, flour, biscuits, macaroni, water and tarpaulin, and are being sent to Dominica. The other three containers will be sent to Antigua.
The relief will aid the countries of Antigua, Dominica, and Barbuda.
The items in these containers were the result of donations mostly from the Private Sector and other donors, including Government, and weigh in excess of 80 tonnes.
During an informal gathering at the Guyana National Shipping Corporation (GNIC) on Tuesday, Civil Disaster Commission (CDC) Director General, Colonel (retired) Chabilall Ramsarup told the media that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) will be responsible for the distribution of these relief items.
He said while specific numbers of containers have been assigned to two different countries, the CDEMA will decide whether they should be utilised in that country, based on the needs. “They are going to coordinate whatever goes into Antigua, and whether other islands need it badly,” he added.
Ramsarup said given the massive devastation in Dominica, most of the relief supplies will be sent to that island, especially since there is word that Antigua has already been receiving massive support. He noted that these containers could take 10-12 days or longer to be shipped, based on the weather at sea.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who was also present to see the first shipment sent off, said he was pleased that the effort was continuing and thanked Tropical Shipping for facilitating the shipment of these containers free of cost as assistance to the relief efforts of the people of Guyana. He described the effort by this company as magnanimous and encouraged others to follow suit.
“This part of the continuing effort, we are not done as yet. We are hoping that other sections of the society, particularly the Private Sector, would continue to respond to the efforts being made here to help those who are affected, particularly in Antigua and Dominica at this point in time,” he added.
The Prime Minister noted, however, that one of the largest requests received from the affected islands was for lumber. He explained that gathering the material was taking longer than expected, but it would have to be sent in one shipment. “We are committing ourselves to our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and we hope that [our] modest effort will go towards helping to sooth some suffering,” he said.
Meanwhile, representing the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Komal Singh said since the hurricane, the PSC has been engaged in mobilising businesses to work very closely with Government and over the past few weeks, it has been able to gather support from the Private Sector in many areas.
“Our effort is not done. We will continue to see how much support we can garner and send to these affected islands. We will also work with PSC and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce to see how best to work with these islands during the rebuilding process also,” Singh said.
Following the devastating hurricanes, President David Granger had summoned a meeting with his Cabinet to discuss how Guyana could respond to the crisis. Prime Minister Nagamootoo was tasked with heading a ministerial task force responsible for oversight of the efforts to respond to the crisis.
Government had also pledged a sum of US$100,000 to aid urgent relief efforts through Caricom’s regional mechanism, coordinated by the CDEMA in partnership with the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). (Samuel Sukhnandan)