Mourners at a funeral had to resort to burying the deceased themselves after truck carrying grave diggers breaks down


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Some residents are outraged while others are simply sad that mourners at a funeral had to resort to burying the deceased themselves, reportedly because there were no grave-diggers at the cemetery to oversee the burial.

Following a funeral service at Holy Family Cathedral on Monday morning, the cortege proceeded to the Valley Church Community Cemetery for burial of a man who had died since early December last year.

Videos in wide circulation show persons at the graveside using pieces of lumber, tree branches and their bare hands as tools to “shovel” dirt into the grave – since there were no assigned Central Board of Health (CBH) workers on site.

Speculation ran rife that the grave-diggers were on strike over pay, while other rumours said they had been assigned to an “important” funeral at the St. John’s Public Cemetery.

However, “grave-diggers are not on strike.  They need reliable transport to take them around,” a CBH official tells REAL News.

The official says the pick-up transporting the grave-diggers to the country cemetery broke down in the vicinity of the Hall paddock on the Valley Road, and a mechanic had to be called to the rescue.  “Sadly, the funeral had gone ahead of them,” the official explains.

Several sources tell our Newsroom that the vehicles assigned to the CBH are about 14 years old, and were procured when John Maginley served as Minister of Health in the United Progressive Party (UPP) Administration.

“Tell the Government to give us vehicles that are functioning and not breaking down on the roads,” the CBH source implores.

Reportedly, replacement vehicles have been requisitioned by the CBH; but the current minister, Sir Molwyn Joseph, apparently has been unable to fulfill the Board’s request.

Sir Molwyn came in for harsh criticism, last year, when REAL News broke the story about corpses that had become liquefied in a malfunctioning container attached to the morgue.  Flies and a bad odour emanating from the refrigerated unit had alerted someone on the Holberton Hospital compound to the situation.

As a result, the rotting bodies – reportedly being stored pending autopsies – had to be hurriedly buried at short notice to the families.

Last Wednesday, February 22, Sir Molwyn was ridiculed again after REAL News reported that another set of corpses had begun to decay in the same container – as official jostling between CBH, the police and the coroner reportedly was delaying their burial.

It is not known whether the deceased in Monday’s debacle was among the remains stored in the container. However, that body would have been in storage for more than two months.

“Antigua leads the way in the ‘next level’ of burying their dead. My God, disrespect for even the dead!” is one civil servant’s lament about this latest instance of the Health Minister’s shortcomings.

“This is a crying, weeping, dutty, wutliss shame that needs to be exposed.  What else, Molwyn Joseph? What else?  Why are our dead being subjected, so often, to being treated like trash?” another woman asks.

In the meantime, an operator owed by the National Solid Waste Authority – which also falls under the ambit of Sir Molwyn – is reminding residents that the new public cemetery promised by the minister remains undelivered.

More than $2 million was transferred from the CIP Fund, several years ago, to establish a new burial ground at Tomlinsons, while another sum reportedly was paid to a US-based designer associated with the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, USA, according to the minister.

At last reference, about two years ago, the site was scheduled to be fenced, with preparatory civil works following after.  However, only a few weeks ago, the Browne Administration held a ground-breaking ceremony for an aquatics centre at the Tomlinsons location.

Meanwhile, Southside residents continue to complain about the Government’s over-use of the Valley Church cemetery to bury persons who had no ties to their community.

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  1. We all complain and grunt and groan, yet put back the SAME SET AH PEOPLE IN DEY! Tap complain AGAIN while we remain in pain.

    • I totally agree. Antiguans are shameful. We had the opportunity to pit things right, to bring back dignity and pride to this island and obviously the people don’t want that, so let them continue live in the fail state that they create and love. Sooo embarrassing!

  2. This is a Major problem,and nobody is talking about it.There has been and increase of deaths in our country,for whatever reason.Alot of people complied to there graves,the least you can give them is a proper burial.I ask these question,If no new cemetery, where do you continue to find space in the ground.Why cremotoriums are not apart of the conversation in this country.Isnt it important to properly record historical data.What happened to the 2 million,and who is the US based designer based at Arlington.this is a shame to your last days on the earth.

    • When the Rain Falls
      It’s not on ONE MANs House TOP..
      Flip.flop flip flop flip flop.
      This has to Stop .
      A Russian Company / Hadeed.
      Open A Company Insurance
      These Liabilities would be Highlighted
      For and Better our Satisfaction..
      Go Modern Go Monumental..Commercial.


    • How Molwin is still an MP indicates how bad a candidate Jonathan was. Either that or some high science may be at play.
      No cemetery
      Whey de money deh
      No vehicle
      No grave digger
      Now people deading left right center, they til can’t get help. When they alive, clinic&pharmacy building need repair in dem village, hospital need staff and eberbady hab flu

  4. We the people of Antigua,not Barbuda,got what we voted for. A set of do nothings before the elections. What made you think they would be doing anything now.This is the last merry-go-round for those WORTHLESS RENEGADES in CABINET,FAT LAZY, BASTARDS.

  5. @Blackman. I fully agree with you, ALP has no time wit local issues that concerns ordinary citizens and sadly it is was those ordinary citizens who have given Joseph and ALP another term in office to do nothing.

    They current focus is to integrate Africans into local communities that were trafficked to Antigua, with ALP, things can only get worse and not better.

  6. I always laugh when people say to at least give someone “a proper send off” what people need is a proper life, for God is not the God of the dead, but the living! What Antiguans need to do is to work on bringing the island to the standards where their citizens are afforded a proper life, and not wait for the dead to save them. Now people really understand that even the grave diggers are people as well and just as important, and don’t look down on anyone.

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