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Rohee dismisses GT&T’s claims over 911

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee

Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee on Thursday stuck to his guns, saying that the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GT&T) was not telling the whole truth about the poor functioning of the 911 emergency system.

“The police always comes in for a beating up. They (GT&T) don’t want to take responsibility. We are going to flush them out,” Rohee told Demerara Waves Online News.

He maintained that the unsatisfactory response to calls to the 911 Emergency Line was largely a “technical problem” which the related parties would have to find a way of resolving.

Rohee conceded that the “human” factor was responsible in a small way for problems with the 911 system. Guyanese often complain that calls to 911 go unanswered. “The consultant found that it was a technical issue but they did see some problems at the police side but not what GT&T is mentioning,” he said.

The Home Affairs Minister noted that calls are sometimes made to 911 but the phones at the stations do not ring.
The government hired the Cayman Islands-based Island Care Emergency to assess the performance of Guyana’s emergency response system via telephone.

The phone company, which is 80 percent owned by the California-headquartered Atlantic Tele Network (ATN), has already dismissed Rohee’s earlier claims that little or no response to 911 is a “technical error that GT&T is refusing to accept responsibility for”.

“GT&T reiterates that the unresponsiveness of the 911 personnel has nothing to do with GT&T. Our checks have revealed that the following occur with great frequency-the disappearance of handsets from the termination points of 911 lines at various Police Stations, the removal of the handset off the hook and no answer by personnel during standard working hours,” said the phone company in a statement.

While GT&T offered to work with a foreign consultant, who has been hired by government, to examine ways of resolving the problem it maintained that its system was technically sound and should not be blamed. “For simplicity, it is not within our control who answers the 911 phone . GT&T’s responsibility begins and ends with ensuring access by all subscribers to the assigned 911 fixed service lines and ensuring maintenance of this access as a priority,” added the phone company.