SEVERAL business and other offices in the Croal Street annex of the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court were still unable to carry out their daily activities yesterday, following last Saturday night’s fire suspected to have been started by arson.
Up to yesterday morning, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) kept sections of the building off limits and prevented public access. However the section which houses the Traffic Courts was functioning, though without electricity, as it was not affected by the 22:00 hrs blaze.
On Sunday, Chief Fire Chief Marlon Gentle had indicated, to the Guyana Chronicle, that the investigations were taking a criminal turn since it was strongly suspected that the conflagration was deliberately set. Yesterday a senior member of the GPF told this publication that, while he is not aware of any new developments, the probe is continuing.
Yesterday, too, it was only after several senior legal personalities enquired why they were not being permitted into the damaged edifice that the police began granting permission for their entry but maintained a presence outside the office where the flames were suspected to have originated Saturday night.
Former Human Services Minister and now in private legal practice, Attorney-at-law Ms. Bibi Shaddick confirmed that she was one of the persons who barred from entering her chambers yesterday morning. She said she is moving from that location to a place that will be safer for her and the records of her clients.
On Saturday night, the police took Shaddick’s legal clerk into custody and kept her for several hours after she ventured into the chambers to ensure that nothing was damaged nor was there a threat of destruction.
Shaddick could not operate there yesterday, either, as most of her work necessitated the use of computer and there was no electricity but she has secured new premises to where she will be moving by Friday.
Asked about reports that the Croal Street property was sold to a popular city businessman, the former minister said she continues to pay her monthly rental to the same person since 1998.
Meanwhile, another tenant, Sunita Housein said firefighters had to break another office so she could enter hers and she found that everything inside had been damaged beyond repair either by water or flames.
She said, at first, a firefighter said the outbreak may have started in her office or the other next to hers which was abandoned after another tenant moved out about a week ago.
Housein said she lost documents, machines and other appliances but is unable to estimate her losses. She is still to contemplate what next needs to be done or, more realistically, can be done.
She said that she had been paying for her tenancy to the son of the former Judge Jainarayan Singh but ceased doing so, since August last year, after being served a notice by someone else and the matter is presently engaging the High Court.