The ability of the Eugene F Correia International Airport, Ogle, East Coast Demerara, staffers and relevant stakeholders was put to the test on Friday morning when an emergency exercise was conducted at the facility where the team was exposed to responding to a firsthand mass causality incident and bomb threat.Director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Egbert Field told the media that such an exercise is supposed to be conducted at least once per year.During the emergency exercise, the Guyana Fire Service and the Police Force were summoned and promptly responded, he said.“I think the response time was could, could have been better. We commenced the exercise and within I think three or four minutes the Fire Service was out there so like I said we will look at the stopwatches. From my vantage point in the tower I would say that the response was in accordance with standard operating procedures,” Field explained.First aiders responding to a mass casuality at the Eugene F Correia International Airport during the emergency preparedness exerciseAlthough the activity was lauded a success, the Director warned that persons must not get complacent but rather, continue to work hard to be ready to manoeuver in the event of an actual emergency.Meanwhile, Captain Jack McGovern of Virginia, who has been participating in the exercises since 2006, pointed out that the session was intended to examine the preparedness of various departments at the airport.According to him, “The exercise today (Friday) was meant to test many varying levels. In years past we have dealt with one specific issue, whether it be a mass causality incident, a bomb threat or a fire”.McGovern noted that this year the airport was tested to respond to a mass causality incident and a bomb threat at the terminal building which went exceptionally well.He said too, “I think we will come away with things that we can learn from and implement as we move forward to build a better plan to respond even better in the future”.Participating in the emergency exercise were airport staff, the Civil Defense Commission (CDC), the Police Force, Fire Service and others.The need for airport personnel to be attentive to their surroundings and be prepared to offer help and even exit the building in an orderly manner was highlighted only last November when an aircraft crash-landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.About 10 persons were hospitalised after the Boeing 757 aircraft crashed after it encountered hydraulic problems.
… March 2, 2020 “earliest” possibility – Caretaker President…says Govt will return to Parliament to seek extension…PPP will not be blackmailed – PPPAlmost a year of procrastination after his Government’s defeat to a No-Confidence Motion has finally resulted in caretaker President David Granger announcing March 2, 2020, as the “earliest possible” date for elections.Opposition LeaderBharrat JagdeoIn an address to the nation on Wednesday, Granger said that March 2, 2020 was arrived at following consultations with his Cabinet and a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair retired Justice Claudette Singh.“Justice Claudette Singh wrote me last Thursday, 19thSeptember, 2019, indicating that ‘the Guyana Elections Commission will be able to deliver credible elections by the end of February 2020’. I convened a meeting of available Cabinet ministers that very day, within hours of receiving her advice, to discuss the timeline provided to me by the Chairman”.President David GrangerHe added that a second meeting of the full ‘Cabinet’ (which according to the Caribbean Court of Justice, stands resigned) was held on September 24 when all members accepted the advice provided by the Chair of the Elections Commission. According to Granger, the ‘Cabinet’ also “benefitted” from the advice of Attorney General Basil Williams.He explained that during Wednesday’s meeting with Justice Singh, they discussed the statutory timelines for the upcoming General and Regional Elections. Granger also noted that there will be a return to the National Assembly in order to seek an extension of time for his government in office.Blaming the Elections Commission again, the President said that the extension of a period beyond three months for the holding of an election is related to the GECOM’s readiness to hold the elections. “The Government of Guyana must, as a consequence, return to the National Assembly to request an extension. The National Assembly reconvenes on 10th October 2019. The President is required to both dissolve Parliament as provided for in the Constitution at Article 70 (2) and the ten Regional Democratic Councils as provided for in the Constitution at Article 73 (2),” Granger also said in his address.Granger cited Article 61 of the Constitution, which states: “An election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation”.He went on to reference Article 70 (2), which states further that: “The President may at any time by proclamation dissolve Parliament”, while Article 73 (2) provides that: “Elections of members of regional democratic councils shall be held and the councils shall be dissolved at such times as subject to paragraph (3), the President may appoint by proclamation”.BlackmailBut Granger’s insistence on returning to Parliament to seek an extension is not finding favour with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who has said repeatedly that he and the Opposition parliamentarians would not be returning to the house to extend the Government’s life.During an interview on radio show on Tuesday, Jagdeo had expressed his belief that the real motive for the Government seeking an extension is to cover actions taken outside of the scope of a caretaker government, during the months after it lost the no confidence vote.“The greed behind this all, they have been engaged in a rape of the treasury and handing out assets. The moment we go back to Parliament and extend the life of the government, we clothe them with constitutional legitimacy,” Jagdeo said.“Then we would give some legal coverage to all the monies stolen, the lands transferred, so we may not be able to investigate these acts of corruption in the last year, when they should not have been done because they had no powers to do so… they’re worried about (themselves), because they’re going to be investigated. This tiny cabal”.On Wednesday evening, in a stinging statement following the caretaker President’s address to the nation, the PPP said that the illegal President ended yet another address to the nation with the Guyanese people being no clearer than they were before. According to the party, his address has not given a definitive date for General and Regional Elections; rather, he says: “…the earliest possible date for the holding of General and Regional Elections will be on Monday, 2nd March 2020”.“His evidenced history of flip-flopping does not inspire confidence in anything that he says. Therefore, nothing short of a signed proclamation from him, declaring a date for General and Regional Elections, will be credible. Further, Mr Granger links a parliamentary extension of the life of his illegal government to the readiness of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold Elections, by saying: ‘The extension of a period beyond three months for the holding of an election is related to the Elections Commission’s readiness to hold the elections. The Government of Guyana must, as a consequence, return to the National Assembly to request an extension’. There is no valid link between these two issues. A return to the National Assembly is wholly unnecessary for him to discharge his constitutional duty to proclaim a date for Elections and dissolve Parliament, nor is it linked to a requirement for GECOM to be ready for Elections,” the PPP statement said.The party said it remains convinced that Granger’s call for a return to the National Assembly is an attempt to blackmail the parliamentary Opposition into extending the life of his illegal Government, so that he can secure some legal cover for the many illegal acts, including the approval of billions in contracts, which have been committed since the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2019.“All of this is taking place as he grasps for some level of respectability. Granger’s comment that ‘…we are on the right path to preserve our precious parliamentary democracy’ could not be further from the truth. His actions have not only undermined our standing as a democracy, but has caused Guyana to come in for international condemnation. To date, the illegal President remains the biggest threat to our democracy. He has failed to comply with the Constitution of Guyana and pushed our nation into unconstitutional rule without hesitation,” the party said.GECOMAfter Granger was briefed by Justice Singh that GECOM would be able to hold elections at the end of February, the President came under increasing pressure to name an election date; something he had promised to do after he was advised by GECOM.It was only on Monday that the Commonwealth became the latest in a line of organisations to urge the President to call elections immediately. Similar calls also came from the United States, British and European Union diplomatic representatives.Meanwhile, it was announced by GECOM on Tuesday that Claims and Objections will start on October 1; a necessary move towards having an Official List of Electors (OLE) to conduct elections.The exercise will last for 35 days, with the qualifying date to be eligible to vote being December 31. In addition, it was announced that GECOM would engage the United States and the Commonwealth to inform them of which observers they will be sending.