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Dave Williams does not feel he needs to resign as the deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management despite calls for him to do so.
“Personally, no, there is no need for me to resign,” Williams told the Guardian on Sunday during a telephone interview yesterday.
Williams has come under heavy criticism following a press conference held on Friday at the ODPM’s office in Tacarigua where he admitted that the organisation had a poor response to the severe flooding experienced around the country.
Disaster continued across the country for a fourth day with reports of landslides, rivers breaking their banks resulting in the flooding of numerous homes, and at least two major roadways, Mosquito Creek and the Manzanilla/Mayaro Road having to be closed to low vehicles because of rising waters.
One of the issues in particular that Williams has been taken to task over following that press conference was his comment that the ODPM’s command centre was not activated because the situation was a “small thing”.
During a joint press conference held yesterday, however, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said his assessment of the situation is that it is a “very serious” one which required some citizens having to be evacuated from their homes and being taken to emergency shelters.
MP for Tabaquite Dr Suruj Rambachan yesterday called for senior employees at the ODPM to be fired and Williams’ “lame excuses” not to be excused.
“The relevant minister should dismiss the senior employees of the ODPM as a statement that enough is enough in so far as public officials who fail to carry out their responsibilities. For too long we have had this organisation performing way below what is expected and required,” Rambachan stated.
“Fire them now! That is if you are serious about a return to productivity and responsibility,” he stated.
Asked for his response to this Williams said Rambachan, like others, was entitled to his opinion.
“Mr Rambachan, like every other citizen, is entitled to their opinion and I am fine with that,” Williams said.
Williams had earlier in the day attended the joint press conference with Dillon.
He was asked whether he changed his perception of the situation following the comments made by Dillon.
“Let’s just say that what was said was said and what was done was done, you guys did what you had to do and we will look forward to doing better in the future,” Williams said.
Williams was asked whether he felt the media had represented what he said.
“I wouldn’t get into that, I think the media has its job to do, I had mine, I did mine the media did theirs and we’ll press on,” he said.
Williams said a review of the ODPM’s handling of the situation was undertaken and this will guide how things are done in the future.
“Definitely there were learnings that took place that the media knows nothing about at all and that’s fine but we had a review of what happened, certain things were mentioned, certain information was shared, we recognise that there were gaps, we found ways of closing the gaps so we look forward to doing better the next time,” he said.
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