Secondary schools project gets $9.3M compensation for fire loss

By Alim Hassim
Stabroek News
July 13, 1999

The Secondary Schools Reform Programme (SSRP) yesterday received some G$9.3M as compensation for losses suffered in the May 2, 1999 Brickdam fire as its insurance company was convinced that there was no suspicion of arson in that part of the building.

The Ministry of Education building at 68 Brickdam, which housed the SSRP office on its top floor, was gutted by fire in May this year. The entire SSRP office was destroyed as a result.

To date, Stabroek News has not been able to obtain an update on investigations into the fire, but other sections of the media have reported that arson is suspected.

The cheque for $9.3M was handed over to Dr Kenneth Hunte, SSRP Director, by Hans Barrow, Managing Director of Insurance Brokers Limited (IBL), the company which negotiated with the North American Fire Insurance Company (NAFICO) for full compensation for the SSRP.

"We as brokers...were able to negotiate a full settlement with the insurance company, NAFICO...That company was very co-operative, receptive and considerate in granting what we would like to regard as our pleading for a full settlement," Barrow told reporters.

Since the loss suffered by SSRP was total, Barrow said, there was no question of a deduction of anything. The sum received represents the full sum of the value of the insured items.

Donette Parris, Assistant Manager at IBL said the insurance company was keen to pay the compensation very early "but because of some setbacks we had with the Fire Service as well as the police" that had to be delayed.

"To date we have not seen the police report but...we were able to convince the insurance company that there was no form of arson and there is no suspicion of arson; so they have agreed to settle," she said.

Dr Hunte said the next move is to procure those items that were destroyed in the fire.

The absence of essential tools such as computers, he said, have caused a slowing up of the work of the SSRP. "But we would hope that now that we have the full settlement for our claim we can begin to procure these materials and get back on stream as quickly as possible," he added.

One of the major setbacks of the SSRP as a result of the destruction of its equipment, Hunte noted, was that the unit had not been able to communicate as quickly as possible with organisations and agencies it is associated with.

He explained that the SSRP communicates regularly by e-mail with agencies like the World Bank which is its main financial donor.

"(At the moment) we are not able to do so...but gradually we will be able to put the system back on line. "We also need a larger telephone service. We had a network system set up and that too was destroyed. So it means that individually our offices don't have telephones. We have one or two telephones in the main room and that is not really adequate," he said.

Dr Hunte expects the SSRP to be back to normal within a month's time.

Administrator of the SSRP, Walter Alexander, who was instrumental in getting the unit insured, said the policy was taken out in early 1998, "not expecting that we would ever have to put in a claim....but lo and behold on May 2, 1999, we were completely wiped out".

He noted that everything was destroyed - records, equipment, computer, fax machine, photocopiers etc.

A © page from:
Guyana: Land of Six Peoples