The efficient manning of the border that Guyana shares with Venezuela is challenging but the joint services ranks who are posted there are trying their best to ensure that it is secure, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan says.
“…the police and the army are trying to cover the area and give security governance…That is what we can do and that is as best as we can do”, he said during a recent interview with this newspaper.
There is growing concern about the smuggling of goods and members of armed gangs terrorising Guyanese living in communities near the border. The situation has been compounded by the arrival of dozens of Venezuelans fleeing hardship in their home country. President David Granger, Ramjattan and top security officials had visited some of those communities to assess the security situation.
Ramjattan told Stabroek News that aside from the shortage of police ranks and the rough terrain, the law enforcement personnel posted to those border communities are providing as much security as they can to those residents.
He said that his ministry is still looking to establish community policing groups to assist the law enforcement officials posted there.
“We have done a number of things and the locals in the area have made the request (for policing groups)”, he said, adding that CPG Coordinator Dennis Pompey and a team will soon be heading into those areas to set up groups.
During a press conference last month in honour of the 42nd Anniversary celebration for Community Policing Organisations of Guyana, the minister had pointed out that he and the officials at his ministry want to assist the joint services in any way they can to secure the country’s borders.“Absolutely and we want to help …the police and the army and there have been calls from some members, especially those that own shops, that have indicated to me that they would like to set up some CPG groups for purposes of also enhancing, at the local level, their security and having groups that are going to do the patrols and the surveillance,” Ramjattan said.
“If they see strangers and they see Venezuelans coming in and doing a couple of things, we would like them to telephone us at the headquarters here at the Ministry and say …that also helps because the police are doing it. Army people, who are doing patrols there, are also doing it,” he said.
One of the key roles of CPGs is to assist the police as far as possible in the detection and suppression of crime.
Regional officials and particularly those from Region One have expressed concern about the influx of hundreds of Venezuelans, who they say are putting a strain on the healthcare system. There have also been reports coming from regions Nine and Seven of illegal entries but on a much smaller scale.
There are also reports about fuel smuggling continuing on a large scale particularly via Ete-ringbang in Region Seven.