There is a typical case here in the Rupununi of misplaced priorities by the PPP government. There is an intense campaign, almost an obsession by the party, to convert all and sundry to PPPites. This campaign has now shifted its focus to the youths.
On most weekends the PPP operatives, mostly from Georgetown, visit villages on this divisive quest. The youths are lured to the meetings by the ruse of government officials seeking to ascertain the communities’ problems.
At these meetings the youths are given forms to complete and their induction into the PYO is finalised. What deviousness! What happens next demonstrates the deceitfulness of the party. For anyone to have access to a job in the village, one has to be a PYO member. Qualifications or suitability are of no importance.
But while millions of taxpayers’ dollars are being spent to fortify the position of the party, the police in the region are languishing without resources to fight crime.
The Rupununi is 23,000 square miles and consists of five Sub-Regions, each of which, in itself, is a huge expanse of land.
There are four police stations in the region – one each in the sub-regions except the South-Central Sub-Region. The station at Aishalton is manned by two ranks. That area extends from Shea in the east, 42 miles from Aishalton, to Parabara in the west, which is some 57 miles away. The area also takes in the mining area of Marudi mountains which is 38 miles to the south. This police station has no vehicle.
In examining Annai, the largest sub-region, the situation is no different. This area extends to Fair View in the north, some 68 miles away. The communities in this Sub-Region are widely scattered and it takes hours driving from one village to the next. There are also communities along the Rupununi River like Apoteri, Rewa, Crash Water and Yakarinta. The police station at Annai does not have a vehicle or boat to access these communities.
The station at Karasabai is responsible for Yarong Paru in the east to Taushida in the west. This area is mountainous and probably requires an ATV to enable the police to access these villages.
This leaves the regional headquarters, Lethem.
The ranks at Lethem number no more than 15. They are responsible for the Central and South-Central Sub-Regions. This is one massive tract of land with villages widely scattered. Apart from St Ignatius Village which is 30 minutes walk from Lethem, the next village Kumu, is 7 miles, and as you go to the next the distances increase to double figures. Sand Creek, the centre of the South-Central Sub-Region, is at least 58 miles from Lethem and there are other villages further away.
The police at present have no vehicles with which to patrol, much less respond to crimes in these areas. Just before their vehicle became unserviceable, there were always 5 ranks in the vehicle whenever it left the compound. The reason? Whenever the vehicle was parked it had to be push-started. Hence the driver dared not venture too far lest he would not be able to get a quick start. That in itself was an undesireable situation, not to mention a dangerous one.
I am quite certain that the condition of this vehicle would have been included in the station’s routine reports to the Division Command.
Additionally, the Rupununi has over 1,000 miles of border with Brazil. Hence one can appreciate the impossible mission the ranks have in policing the region. In the meantime, illegal cross-border activities continue unabated. Even with one vehicle, the police were engaged in mission impossible. One has to sympathise with the ranks here.
The government by not addressing these dangerous shortcomings have failed the residents of this very region which they are desperately trying to retain. They have neglected the residents in the same way they have neglected the sugar workers.
The Minister of Home Affairs has to come off of his horse which goes by the name of pontification and recognise that this region has a very serious security problem and deal with it in an impartial manner. Failure to act now can have consequences we may not be able to deal with later.
My advice therefore is that the government should stop this wanton waste of scarce resources and spend them where they are needed. Leave the people to decide which party they want to be members of. That decision will be made in two years’ time.
Carl Parker Sr