Bandits attack East Bank company again by river

-safe, millions in equipment stolen

The ECI compound stretches from the Friendship, East Bank Demerara public road to the Demerara River and is secured by two unarmed guards on any night. Seven men, some armed with guns, attacked the guards early yesterday morning, tied their hands and feet and left them between heavy-duty machinery.

In a press release issued last evening police said that they are investigating the robbery which occurred at about 1.30am. The two watchmen, they reported, were attacked by the seven men, four of whom were armed with guns.

Investigations, according to police, revealed that the men escaped with a quantity of electrical tools including drills, saws and sanding machines along with a safe containing $472,000.  The police report did not provide a value for the stolen equipment but this newspaper understands that they are worth more than $3 million.

Police further said that it is suspected that the men escaped by way of the Demerara River.

Frankie Jaigopaul, one of the guards on duty at the time of the robbery, told Stabroek News that this is the second time this year gunmen have attacked ECI and carted off equipment and their safe of money. The man said that in both instances the robbers escaped in boats.

“Well girl, at least ah ain’t get beat this time,” Jaigopaul told Stabroek News from his home late last night. “The last time bandit come on we in March I get some good licks …and if you de see my chest de last time ‘cause dem de hold me by meh foot and drag me on meh chest along the concrete.”

The 69-year-old man explained that he and the other guard Chandrapaul Frederick would work every other night. Jaigopaul said that they would go in to work at 3.30pm and leave at 7.30 the following morning. Some time around 11.30pm on Wednesday, the man recalled, he and Frederick were in front the compound sitting and talking for a bit.

A short time after they went to their respective spots in the compound. Jaigopaul said that his spot was more to the front of the compound while his colleague’s was closer to the rear. Later, Jaigopaul said he went to the locker room area where he was sitting in a chair and having a meal. Frederick, according to him, went to the landing at the back of the building; from there he had a view of the river and the rear of the compound.

“Me na know wa he was doing but then I hear a dog make a sudden bark and after that I hear talking and I de listening to see if Tall Man {Frederick) was on he phone but then I realize was more than one person,” the man said.

When he peered around the side of the wall, Jaigopaul recalled, he saw three men with the other watchman. “I crawl and I go and I take off the main switch and then I hear de man dem asking the other guy is who take off the so-and-so lights,” Jaigopaul said.

After that Jaigopaul said he spent the next ten minutes listening to the men and when he heard them start questioning Fredericks about the whereabouts of the other guard he decided to sneak out. However, before Jaigopaul could reach the entrance of the building to make his escape three other men with guns caught him. He was later forced to switch on the electricity again.

“…tek off me shirt and tie we up…”
“When dem catch me now dem tek all two ah we and carry we to the back and then dem tek off meh shirt and tie we up,” Jaigopaul said. “And was a long sleeve shirt me de wearing and dem tear it up and tie up we hand and foot.”

Frederick, he said, was the first one to be tied up and he was placed in a small space between two machines. “You think is two thing I go through after dem tie he up, dem tie me up and then dem throw me top he.

Right on top he dem throw me and me had to ask he to give me a squeeze and he shake, shake ‘til me get to slide down on de lil piece of floor,” Jaigopaul related.

He said that he and Frederick stayed in that position for several hours until early morning employees came in and discovered them.

Jaigopaul believes that some of the men in the group which attacked him were familiar with ECI. “During the first robbery in March dem man de asking we where to walk and so but this time dem come and dem know exactly where to go and where to find everything,” he said.

This is the fifth time Jaigopaul has gone through such an ordeal. In all five instances, he said, the bandits came, attacked the night time watchmen and went away with equipment escaping into the Demerara River.

“Wa I going to do? I can’t stop working eh? Things getting more and more hard and I got to do meh work if I want money…right now I just happy me alive and me ain’t get licks this time, honestly,” Jaigopaul said.

He also pointed out that after the first robbery in March he had informed “the boss man” that two guards were not enough to secure the ECI compound. Jaigopaul said that concerns were also raised about the fact that the guards at the location are unarmed.

Meanwhile, when Stabroek News visited Frederick’s home the man had gone to the Diamond Diagnostic Centre to get a medical. His wife, Dola Raganath, explained that the man was kicked to the mouth by one of the robbers.

“Dem bus’ up he mouth,” Raganath said. “The police been here earlier and he give dem a statement and so and they send he to the hospital to get a medical.”

Frederick, the woman said, has been working with ECI almost a year now. Early yesterday morning, Raganath recalled, her husband came home with his mouth bleeding and related to her what had happened.

“He tell me that de man dem go in there and by the time he see one ah dem and he and that one had a scramble de rest ah dem come in a hold he up…this thing happening here too steady man,” the woman said.

This is the second East Bank Demerara business to be attacked by gunmen in just over a week. On November 24 gunmen carted off more than $6 million in cash from the Gafoors Land of Canaan complex.

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