Although only La Inmaculada RC School was closed on the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, the complaints about the New River span the community. This morning, chairman of the People’s United Party, Henry Usher, criticized the Department of Environment for its lax response to such a critical issue.
Henry Usher, PUP Party Chairman: “First of all, perhaps the central party has not made any pronouncements but we have seen press releases, posts on Facebook coming out from our Deputy Party Leader for the north Honorable Jose Mai, we’ve also seen the Mayor of Orange Walk make certain statements to the media and make public statements so it’s not an issue that we have been ignoring, it’s certainly an issue that is very a lot of concern to us especially yesterday’s news about the school having to close down and over a thousand school students being out of the classroom; so I think it’s a very serious issue. Now the second part of the DOE and the response we find the response to be completely lacking, it seems that they have no idea what they are going to do, they’re hoping it’s going to start to rain and it flushes the river, that can’t be a response, hoping on the weather to fix the weather. We have to have better mechanisms in place to make sure that this cannot happen. It was already forecasted earlier in the year that we would have a severe drought so they should have prepared for that, they should have been ready for that and put in the proper mitigating measures to make sure that this did not happen in the river. I’m not saying that it would have been 100% successful but certainly we would have seen more being able to be done faster than what’s going on right now. So in terms of the department it’s something that we will look at at the national party level but we have to look at more accountability from DOE, we have to look at having the resources to put in place to make sure that this does not happen again; you see the same thing happening with the sargassum issue. We heard Mr.Alegria say last night saying it’s only going to get worse so we have to put plans in place we can’t just sit back and be reactive, we have to be proactive.”