Editorial: We must not forget the Mati disaster
Some were negligent, some proved incompetent or unable to meet the challenge, some stood by as onlookers as the fire spread, “like Xerxes” as the investigating magistrate’s report stated.
Three years after the catastrophic wildfire at Mati in which 102 people lost their lives, there are three important pending issues.
The first is to assign blame to those who were responsible. Some were negligent, some proved incompetent or unable to meet the challenge, some stood by as onlookers as the fire spread, “like Xerxes” as the investigating magistrate’s report stated.
There was indifference. There was a cover-up effort. There was hypocrisy. For all that, those responsible must account for their actions.
The dead cannot return.
Along with an analysis of mistakes and the effort to identify those responsible, we have a duty not to forget the survivors and fire-ravaged citizens, people like Iakovos, who is still tortured by the question of whether he acted properly, whether he could have done more to save the two women who died in his arms.
The state must, with all possible means, help these people rebuild their lives. It must disburse the necessary funding, complete the process of removing asbestos from the homes that will be demolished, and expedite the process of finalising the town planning scheme. The gaping holes that have festered for years must at long last be closed.
The third issue is that we must not allow yet another such tragedy to happen anywhere in our country in the future.
Self-criticism, meting out justice, and the restoration of order must be accompanied by proper planning.
Town planning reform for the entire country is needed in order to correct problems and to determine what is forestland and what is not, so that one can finally put an end to illegal construction and property encroachment and ensure that we do not have to relive the drama of the martyrdom of Mati.
For that reform to succeed, however, we must all actively cooperate.