BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, March 22, 2022 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Earlier today, Tuesday, March 22, 2022, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris visited the teachers, students and support staff of the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School at their temporary accommodation at the headquarters of the Explorers Youth Club, where he assured them that the full restoration of the school compound has been given the highest priority of his Team Unity administration.
“All of us at the level of Cabinet were apprised yesterday (March 21) of the challenges and the opportunities. We want to ensure that the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School is restored to full use at the soonest possible opportunity. The Public Works [Department] has been engaged, the Ministry of Education has been engaged and all agencies will treat this as an emergency situation worthy of the quickest response,” the Prime Minister said.
Late Friday (March 18) evening, officers from St. Kitts and Nevis Fire and Rescue Services were called to the school to extinguish the massive fire that had engulfed certain buildings on the compound. That fire resulted in extensive damages to the ceiling, walls, partitions, furniture and books left in the classrooms in the main building that housed kindergarten and grades one to five.
As Parliamentary Representative for Constituency Seven, in which the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School is located, Prime Minister Harris assured the teachers and students that they can “count on my fullest support personally as a citizen of the country, secondly as the Parliamentary Representative, and thirdly as the Prime Minister. So, whatever I can do to be of assistance, to be of service, please do not hesitate to ask.”
Speaking directly to the students, the honourable Prime Minister informed them that the situation is only temporary, as they will soon be able to return to a much improved learning environment.
“I want you to know that we will do the best that we can to get you quickly [back] into your own school in a much improved way. We’re sorry that you have lost your usual environment in which teaching and learning would have taken place. On the other hand, we are pleased that we have found a comfortable environment for you here at the Explorers Headquarters,” said Prime Minister Harris.
Meanwhile, School Principal Ms. Suzette Cannonier thanked Prime Minister Harris for his visit that brought smiles to the faces of both students and staff of the primary school. Ms. Cannonier also commended the Prime Minister Harris for the Government’s speedy response to the tragedy.
She told the Prime Minister, “From the initial start of the fire, you were on the grounds and it proved to us as a community that you are an action man. You’re a visionary leader and I would like to thank you for all the assistance that you have provided thus far and we appreciate what you have done for us.”
The Prime Minister was supported on his visit to the school by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Skerritt; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Osmond Petty; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Vincent Hodge, and Acting Chief Education Officer, Francil Morris.
As the investigations into this incident continue, the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force has determined that the fire that destroyed a large section of the Joshua Obadiah Williams Primary School was intentionally set.
The Police Force is now asking members of the general public with any information on this incident to contact the Tabernacle Police Station by dialing 465-7227, their nearest police station or the crime hotline at 707 where information can be given anonymously.