SELWYN BROOKS, chairman of the St James District Emergency Organization (DEO), is not only criticizing the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) but asking for an apology from Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite.
Brooks is refuting Brathwaite’s recent statements that he thought many of the DEOs were not functioning as they should due to politics.
After the launch yesterday of the Holetown/Sunset Crest Emergency Resilience Enhancement Programme at The Beach House, Sunset Crest, Holetown, St James, Brooks said unless Brathwaite could produce evidence to prove this, he should apologize to the DEOs, adding that the DEM was to blame, not any political agendas.
“I would agree that some of the units are not functioning at the level that would be required but they are [like that] for a number of reasons, none of which has anything at all to do with politics.
“The reason why some of them are not functioning is because they have not been able to get the structure or the leadership from the DEM,” he said.
Brooks said the DEM had never provided the level of resource, training or equipment necessary, and they had to source it all themselves.
“All of the resources and equipment that we have used, we, as a voluntary organization, have [sourced ourselves] from working with business people and other interest groups. Not one cent has come from the DEM,” he said.
Brooks said he would like to see Government place the same level of emphasis on the DEOs as it did the constituency councils, adding that this indicated a lack of political will.
“I have no bone to pick with the constituency councils but the same way the Government of the day, either this one or any in the future, can invest that amount of money in constituency councils, why could they not have offered the DEOs a similar level of compensation so that they could supply their own needs,” he wondered.
Brooks said the only part politics played in the process was in people’s minds, saying some felt everything had to be done for them.
“Too many Bajans believe it is the [Barbados Labour Party] or the [Democratic Labour Party] or it is politicians who are supposed to do this or do that.
“The people who live in the community need to realize that they have to play an integral part in preparing for emergencies that can affect them; Government has a role to play too, but so do the communities,” he said. (CA)
(Published in the Nation Newspaper)