Five injured in Stabroek Market wharf collapse

Five injured in Stabroek Market wharf collapse

By Svetlana Marshall

The Stabroek Market Wharf, which has been in a dilapidated state for several years, collapsed this morning injuring five persons.

According to eyewitnesses, at around 10 o’ clock this morning, persons who were operating small businesses on the condemned facility heard a crackling sound, and within minutes the entire facility collapsed, trapping a number of persons, as others ran to safety.

The Emergency Medical Services, the Guyana Fire Service, the Guyana Police Force and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council were immediately notified, and a search and rescue operation was launched.

Among those injured was Abdul Komal, who said he is luckly to be alive.

“I went to urinate over in the river, and the thing start crackling, and then my cousin called me, and before I could get out, a wood knocked me in my head,” the vendor told News Source.

He was provided with emergency care for the injuries sustained, and then released.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar was among the first set of officials on the ground, assessing the situation. He said at the time of incident, there were persons vending and living on the condemned wharf.

“Some folks living in there. Apart from vending, some folks living in there. They said to us, initially, there were four persons that got injured. One guy slipped his shoulder and others got minor injuries, and given there is a fifth person, who emerged just now, and he had a little laceration behind his neck and he gone to get medical treatment,” Minister Indar said.

He said based on reports, some persons jumped into the Demerara River to escape their injuries.

As such, he said the search and rescue operation will continue even as the Government works hand in hand with the Georgetown Mayor and City Council to clear the area of all debris.

Minister Indar was joined by Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn; Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Sonia Parag; and Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentore, among other City Officials.

Minister Benn told reporters that the dilapidated wharf was an accident waiting to happen, while laying blame at the feet of the City Council.

A notice board erected on the dilapidated structure states that the wharf has been “condemned for occupation” and as such it is illegal to use the building. However, Benn said it is clear that enough was not done by the City Council to prevent the occupation of the structure. 

“Obviously there has been a lack of control as to the use of the site, and paying attention to the deterioration of the structure. So, the main structure has collapsed but you still have a couple roofs of it on that side, which are also in deplorable condition, and which present a clear and present danger to people who would go under there,” he said.

Minister Benn said he has since asked the City Mayor to ensure that the entire area is cordoned off to prevent further use, as the two sides work to clear the debris.

“We asked that they pay attention to removing the rubble or the debris, the material that is out there, and isolating and making the site safe. The fire boat will be alongside, and I hope the City Council would get a barge so they could start removing the collapsed material, and going forward, we will have to make sure, giving advice to them on consultation, what steps they will take to ensure that the area is safe,” Minister Benn said.

He said the Home Affairs Ministry is also paying keen attention to the fire risk that exists.

Georgetown Mayor Alfred Mentor said the Council will be working closely with the Government to respond to the issue, noting that though the Municipality is responsible for the facility, it has a national impact.

“Even though the City has responsibility to deal with this issue, it also straddles the MARAD and the water ways, and it is something that we would be working collectively on to be able to treat with…I have spoken to our engineer on this, and I have spoken to the Minister on this matter, and we will be working from the river in to be able to figure out how we can treat with this matter, and I think a barge will also be necessary as was indicated, and we will be working to be able to find a solution, and to be able to save lives and limbs.,” Mayor Mentore said.

The City Mayor also maintained that the Municipality of Georgetown has repeatedly warned persons to desist from using the dilapidated building.

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