PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Monday October 30, 2017 – At the height of an onslaught of severe flooding, the deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Disaster Preparedness Management (ODPM) in Trinidad and Tobago, Dave Williams has called it quits.
Williams who was severely criticized for the agency’s slow response to ongoing flooding in Central, Eastern and Southern Eastern Trinidad, tendered his resignation following a closed-door meeting with National Security Minister Edmund Dillon last week.
He said he stepped down because he lost the confidence of Dillon and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
“One cannot function effectively without the complete confidence of one’s employer,” he wrote in his letter of resignation, addressed to Dillon, just days after saying there was no reason for him to
Williams landed in hot water after he described the severe flooding as a “small thing” at a press conference, when he acknowledged the agency had been slow in responding.
The ODPM’s lack of action came under fire from Prime Minister Rowley who expressed concern that the state-run agency needed to have the right people in place with the “attitude and aptitude to respond to this kind of disaster”.
Rowley, while touring hard-affected areas, said, “I am convinced that we do not have the correct personnel in there and that we are not prepared to respond. We had adequate notice for this development and we ought not to be blaming it on communication. This is the age of cellphones. Every two-year-old has a cellphone. We really need to do better than that.”
Ahead of the private talks between Williams and Dillon, the minister endorsed the Prime Minister’s view that firm action had to be taken at OPDM.
However, he had sidestepped questions about whether Williams would be asked to resign.
He merely told the Trinidad Guardian: “There are issues to be treated with in the ODPM and we are reviewing the procedures in terms of personnel, processes and systems.”
The ministry subsequently confirmed Williams’ resignation. It said that in the interim, ODPM’s relief officer Captain Neville Wint would take over.