Durban Street fire victims get assistance from govt

The fire victims pleading for assistance
Minister Robeson Benn handing over the hampers to the fire victims on Saturday

Following Thursday’s massive fire which destroyed two houses and a vulcanizing shop on Durban and George Streets, Georgetown entrepreneur Kevin Phillips and his family have been pleading for help to rebuild their lives.

In response, Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn Saturday afternoon met with the family and reassured them of assistance from the government. In fact, he handed over a quantity of hampers and mattresses to the fire victims at his Brickdam, Georgetown, office.

Benn also informed the families that Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, has been asked to provide temporary accommodation for them.

Additionally, the Home Affairs Minister committed to supporting Phillips in restarting his livelihood. The Minister, according to a DPI report, said he has engaged several Ministers and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to assist in this regard.

Fire victim Kevin Phillips

The father of three lost his only source of income and dream business to Thursday’s massive blaze and has since been pleading for financial help.

Armed with placards, Phillips and some family members gathered at the site of damaged premises when this publication visited Saturday morning.

The entrepreneur explained that he has been living and running his vulcanizing business at the property for a number of years.

“Basically, right now I’ve lost everything and I’m calling on our President, Dr Irfaan Ali, to help me restore this Business back to his greatness. I am trying to create a new trend of electrifying Guyana because I’m dealing with electric bicycles and repairing them. That is a big thing in Guyana and I’m a self-made businessman trying to push that initiative through,” Phillips said during an interview.

The fire victims pleading for assistance

He added that “I would like to get help from various organizations and the public… to let this electrifying thing be a big thing in Guyana. Even though I lost everything, with help I can still do and accomplish my dream.”

According to Phillips, while he did not own the building, he was in the process of acquiring it from the owner. The entrepreneur is confident that he can still achieve this but would require assistance.

The fire which started around 01:45h on Thursday, not only destroyed Phillip’s home and business place but has left over a dozen persons, including Venezuelan migrants, homeless. Another house was also gutted, while the western wall of the next-door property, which housed the Elegance Jewelry and Pawnshop, was also damaged.

Phillips contended that the fire was an act of arson since not only did he recall seeing persons in the yard at the time he became aware of the blaze, but there is also CCTV footage showing three males leaving the premises shortly before there was an explosion which bursts into flames.

The man also recalled seeing the suspects at the scene of the fire, who were assisting him to get his belongings out of the burning building.

The remains from Thursday’s massive fire on Durban and George Streets, Georgetown

According to Phillips, he does not have any grievances with anyone and is unaware as to why someone would want to do this to him. However, he suspected that jealousy could be the cause since not only was his business thriving but he had also opened up his home to give refuge to Venezuelan migrants. His empathy stemmed from his own experience living in Brazil for some time.

Nevertheless, he is calling for justice, telling this publication that not only did the perpetrators took everything from him but they also left him in a lot of debts.

“I can’t calculate everything right now but is over two million dollars in credit I have for one supplier alone. I didn’t buy anything with cash ‘cause I can’t afford it so I stock my business on credit… I’m a young businessman trying. I have brothers and sisters. We now trying to get up… I’m the only young man in this street with a business,” Phillips stated.