ODPM head quits

QUIT: Dave Williams who tendered his resignation as the acting CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management.
QUIT: Dave Williams who tendered his resignation as the acting CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management.

In the end it turned out to be a big thing.

CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) Dave Williams yesterday resigned from his post amid national criticism not only over the ODPM’s initial slow response to the flooding crisis last week but of his “this is a small thing” comment, when he described the flooding during a press conference.

Williams sent his resignation letter to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon who accepted it.

It came two days after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said there would be an overhaul at the ODPM as he too, expressed dismay at the organisation’s response to the flooding.

On Friday, Col Williams remained defiant in wake of calls for him to step down, stating he had done nothing wrong in his management of addressing widespread flooding throughout the country.

He claimed there was miscommunication in the management of dealing with over 1,900 distress calls from the public as well as communication from regional corporations.

Sources revealed that up until Monday, Williams spent most of his day in a workshop with stakeholders. Calls to Williams’ cellular phone went unanswered yesterday.


For his part, Agriculture, Land and Fisheries Minister Clarence Rambharat yesterday hit the ODPM saying staff members in that agency, may have interpreted their job as being associated with an “office” instead of providing leadership to those who must first respond in times of natural disasters.

While the first responders are the various municipal corporations, Rambharat said, across the country it is always a case of guesswork as to who is in charge and the various people who should be contacted.

Speaking yesterday at a drought-risk reduction workshop sponsored by the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts, Rambharat said, “The Prime Minister was in Mayaro on Sunday when he talked about the ODPM. I really wanted to intervene and say, ‘you know, Prime Minister, I think the problem is the word ‘office.’ There are a lot of people who love the word ‘office,’ air condition and carpeting away from the rain. I think the people in the ODPM take that very literally.”

He suggested that the ODPM policies should be changed so that people who work there would understand it is not an office job. “We should give them new clothing to wear that is waterproof and by that they would understand they need to deal with water in the wet season and fire in the dry season.

You are always going to have 189 wet days every calendar year in this country,” the minister said.

Rambharat said it was too early to calculate the losses in food crops suffered by farmers in Barrackpore and Penal. However, he said when the claims for damage and loss to crops begin to be submitted, the ministry would have a more comprehensive figure.

He disclosed that approximately $12 million would be paid out to 636 farmers across the country who suffered losses from hurricane Bret. From the current flooding, Rambharat said the losses included livestock and food crops.

(Additional reporting by Richardson Dhalai)


"ODPM head quits"

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