GWI won’t be intimidated by torching of disconnection bus, Van West-Charles says

-makes appeal to residents to oppose lawlessness

Dr Richard Van West Charles

After a bus contracted by the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) to transport a disconnection crew was torched in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, Managing Director Dr Richard Van West-Charles yesterday said the company would not be intimidated and he made an appeal to residents of the community to stand up against lawlessness.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday at GWI’s Head Office, at Vlissengen Road, Georgetown, Van West-Charles related that the attack was carried out on Thursday morning by a Buxton resident, who had also threatened the crew one day before.  Police are currently investigating the incidents.

According to Van West-Charles, the crew, comprising Christopher Semple, Lennox Douglas, Clairmont Kato and Tevin Howard, had been dispatched to Buxton to disconnect a number of customers who are indebted to the company.

As they were carrying out their work, he said, a man, who has been identified as Dextroy Todd, doused the exterior and interior of the bus with gasoline, which he had stored in a soda bottle, before igniting it with a lighter.

“The crew members had to find their escape as quickly as possible and I think it’s a good thing they were safe but the vehicle has been severely damaged to the point it has to be written off,” Van West-Charles said, while noting that the crew members were transported to Bachelors Adventure, while the police were informed of the incident.

Additionally, he said on Wednesday the crew members were also involved in an altercation with Todd, who had threatened them with a cutlass.

He stressed that the attack cannot be tolerated by anyone and added that the level of lawlessness would not intimidate the company, which will continue to disconnect their customers who are in arrears. Residents in Buxton and neighbouring communities, he noted, have incurred a total debt of over $34 million.

Although the company has recorded several attacks on its workers over the past year in and around the environs of Buxton, Van West-Charles noted that neither him nor the company is of the opinion that the actions of Todd is representative of the people of that community or others.

He stated that it is time for the citizens to raise their voices and ensure that their actions are geared towards respecting the law and maintaining support to assist in the changes that are aimed at bettering their services to all of the citizens throughout the country.

“This action will, in no way, intimidate the work of GWI and the police force has committed its support to work with us in this venture and we shall proceed to ensure that we respond to the mission of this organisation in providing a better service for all of our citizens,” Van West-Charles emphasised.

Moving forward, he added, the company will assess the “high-risk areas” and its security consultants will move to ensure it has support from the police.

He said that the company is also doing outreaches in various communities on the East Coast and even met with the residents of Buxton some two months ago. “We also had meetings in Vryheid’s Lust and others. This is an area that will be foremost on the agenda in seeking to find a common ground,” he said, while adding that talks have also been initiated with the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils to assist the company.

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