Minister of Rural Development and Local Government Kazim Hosein hosted a meeting with all Mayors, Chairmen and CEOs of the 14 municipal Corporations to address concerns surrounding burial arrangements for COVID-19 victims.

According to a press release from the Ministry, during the meeting, status updates on the capacity and conditions of all public cemeteries and crematoria across the municipalities were given; with specific emphasis on the availability of burial plots for those who passed away as a result of COVID-19.

The following is a press release from the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government:

The Minister of Rural Development and Local Government, Senator the Honourable Kazim Hosein, convened an urgent meeting last Thursday with all Mayors, Chairmen and CEOs of the fourteen (14) Municipal Corporations, to address concerns surrounding burial arrangements for COVID-19 victims.

During this meeting, status updates on the capacity and conditions of all public cemeteries and crematoria across the municipalities were given; with specific emphasis on the availability of burial plots for those who passed away as a result of COVID-19. In addressing attendees, Minister Hosein spoke about the effects of the pandemic saying “I want to thank everyone for attending this very important meeting as COVID-19 continues to impact us all whether directly or indirectly; we have all seen the effects. I urge you not to take this virus for granted.” He continued “Keep your families safe and continue to follow the Ministry of Health’s guidelines. Wear your mask, wash your hands and sanitize and watch your distance. Don’t take anything for granted.”

According to the Municipal Corporations Act No. 21 of 1990, the Municipal Corporations are responsible for the maintenance and management of all public burial grounds and crematoria vested within their municipality. Corporation officials indicated that at present no issues have arisen in relation to burials and that the capacity at most cemeteries is manageable at this time. However, one area of concern was the request for open-pyre cremations to be approved; as many Hindu burgesses perform said sacred act as part of their religious ritual.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on January 15th granting approval for the re-opening of open-pyre cremations, Minister Kazim Hosein called another crucial meeting earlier today (Tuesday 18th January, 2022) with the Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, as well as the Chairmen and CEOs of the Tunapuna/Piarco, Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo, Mayaro/Rio Claro and Siparia Regional Corporations where open-air cremation sites are established.

Each Chairman indicated the current number of open-pyres within their respective municipalities as well as the current procedures in place to deal with the increase in the COVID-19 fatalities. Minister Hosein thanked the local government practitioners for their quick action saying, “I want to commend you all for taking the initiative and putting things in place to ensure that the cremation sites are ready and available to your burgesses and members of the public. I know that there may be a surge in requests in some of the areas however it is important that we treat this matter with care and understanding and if the need arises we will adopt an All-of-Corporations approach.”

He further advised the Chairmen of the respective Municipal Corporations to set up a hotline number so that members of the public can easily access this service reminding them, “When a loved one dies, there is so much emotion and if we can help citizens to ease the burden then I truly believe this is a good avenue to do so. We are the direct link between the people and the services offered so let us do our part to assist in these difficult times.”

In closing, Minister Kazim Hosein expressed his sincere condolences to those who lost their loved ones as a result of the pandemic saying, “We sympathize with the families and relatives of those who have passed away due to this deadly virus. May Almighty God give you comfort and may the souls of your loved ones rest in peace.”

The Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government and the fourteen (14) Municipal Corporations continue to work closely with key stakeholders including the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha (SDMS) legal advisor, Mr. Dinesh Rambally in efforts to ease the backlog of cremations.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact representatives from the Municipal Corporations listed below, to make appointments or for further information on applying for open-air cremations;

1) Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation

Liaison: Councillor Derek La Guerre

Contact: 773-2959

Liaison: Mr. Randy Parey

Contact: 469-8772

2) Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation

Liaison: Ms Debbie Ramlochan

Contact: 739-6472

3) Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation

Liaison: Ms. Kiva Semper

Contact: 644-2261 Ext. 5013

4) Siparia Regional Corporation

Liaison: Dr. Curtis Sonny

Contact: 313-4039

Liaison: Ms. Cavelle Joseph

Contact: 742-4215                   

Office Line: 649-0179