GY$5 million final settlement for surviving families of children burnt in Mahdia Dormitory fire

Last Updated on Monday, 17 July 2023, 15:37 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Monday confirmed that the surviving families of the 20 children who were burnt to death at Mahdia Secondary School dormitory earlier this year are each receiving GY$5 million.

“It is an ongoing process,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

“The Government of Guyana hereby offers to the parent/guardian of the victim the sum of five million dollars ($5,000,000) as a form of financial assistance which shall constitute a settlement of all claims and causes of actions on account of all injuries resulting in death and not resulting in death, that resulted from the fire of the 21st May2023 at the Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory,” states one of the agreements

In a statement issued later Monday, Mr Nandlall confirmed that, “thus far, all the affected families engaged have signed agreements.” Without providing figures in the press statement, he said because public monies are being expended, and recognising that these expenditures will have to be transparently accounted for, the agreements were reduced into writing.

It is unclear what such agreements would mean for a Commission of Inquiry if it is found that the survivors should have been compensated more.

The agreement notes that government has ensured that the victims and their families affected by the fire on the 21st day of May 2023 at the Mahdia Secondary school Dormitory, received and benefitted from all the assistance needed in respect to transportation to and from Georgetown, accommodation and all forms of support, including psychosocial assistance, while in Georgetown, all possible medical assistance in Guyana as well as overseas, funeral arrangements and associated expenditures, the replacement of all items destroyed in the said fire, and other forms of support to the families and relatives upon their request.

Further, the parties noted that the Guyana government continues to commiserate, remains committed to continuing to offer various forms of assistance to the victims and their families, including psychosocial support.

A female student, who was residing at the dormitory, has been charged with 20 counts of murder.

Investigators said the girl made good on a threat to burn the dormitory after the house mother and a teacher seized her phone that she had used to communicate with an adult male.

The agreement further removes any liability any part to the agreement caused by, arising from, or connected to, the fire of the 21st of May 2023 at the Mahdia Secondary School Dormitory

The agreement sees the signatories as voluntarily accepting for the purpose of making a compromise and settlement of all potential claims for liability, injury, loss and damage, concerning the event.

The Government says it hopes that the wishes and welfare of the victims of this tragedy are neither exploited nor politicised, and expects that this issue will be accorded the solemnity and dignity which it rightly deserves.