Miners want action against ‘floating shops’

-in light of crime wave

In light of the most recent interior robbery at Piari Landing, Puruni, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has highlighted two measures it wants to see taken by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) – one of these being to eradicate the “floating shops” present in the mining areas.

Speaking with Stabroek News yesterday on behalf of the Association, Administrative Coordinator of GGDMA, Colin Sparman explained that the so-called “floating shops” are those that are in business in illegal locations. He said that shops in the interior area are supposed to be in certain designated landings, where miners and other persons residing in the interior would have access to make their necessary purchases, and where the GGMC and the police could better monitor the shops, the consumers, and the activities going on there.

He said also that the shops are in these designated locations for sanitation purposes. However, “there are many persons who set up shop close to the mining camps and this should not be”. These “floating shops”, he said, have the tendency of harbouring criminals; persons who frequent the shops under the pretence of making purchases and of hanging out as a ‘local’. “These men, you would see them there and think that [they] are from around there and what they’re really doing is checking out the surroundings,” he said, adding that in doing this they’re able to gather information on how much gold or money is available in a certain camp before making their move.

As such, Sparman suggested that the GGMC, the military and the GPF first get rid of these shops situated in illegal areas, then “reinforce checkpoints in the different areas”.

This newspaper understands that at present, there are not enough checkpoints established close to the various mining locations, and as a result, not everyone who ventures into the interior is screened for security purposes. Sparman said that if checkpoints are reinforced in different areas, persons venturing into the interior will be screened and there will be a record of who enters and for what purpose.

With these two suggestions, the Administrative Coordinator is positive that there will be a significant decline in the number of robberies and other crimes committed in the interior.

At around 7 pm on Sunday last, a large gang of men armed with handguns stormed Piari Landing, at Puruni and wounded three Brazilians in the process. Millions of dollars were stolen in the raid.

According to the police, as the men approached, a number of shop owners and other persons fled into the bushes, but eight persons were robbed of cash, raw gold and jewellery, including the three who were shot and injured.

The perpetrators, police said, attempted to escape in a boat that they had stolen from Piari Landing but while travelling along the Mazaruni River, it overturned.

The bodies of six men, five of whom are suspected to be bandits, were discovered by police in the vicinity of Looking Glass Falls in the Mazaruni River, afterwards.

Two of these bodies have since been identified by the police as Aubrey Kingston, a hostage, of Linden and a man who went by the name of Gregory Isaacs, of Laing Avenue.

Six suspects in relation to the matter – one injured – were on Friday last brought to Georgetown from Bartica, after they were found by police in the vicinity of Looking Glass Falls.

So far, five have been charged and remanded to prison until November 11, and one has been pinpointed as the mastermind in a previous robbery.

This Piari Landing robbery is one in a series of crimes in the interior. Investigations are continuing.

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