Private Security Services Act should be amended

Dear Editor,

How can people be so cruel that they would slash a poor man’s throat as he works to make a few dollars to meet his basic daily needs? Ayasammy Monien, who worked as a security guard at Sukhram General Store and Agro Chemicals at Rose Hall, was murdered while on duty. It is clear that he was attacked with great brutality and suffered a horrible death. Reports stated that over $1 million was stolen from the store and 11 persons, including some employees were in custody and one person had confessed up to press time. This is blood money and it is a curse to those handling it, knowing how it was obtained.

It always pains my heart when security guards (and others) are murdered, especially when they are brutally murdered on the job. It hurts more when their families get little or no compensation.

This brings me to an important point: Guyana’s Private Security Services Act needs to be reworked to give more protection to security personnel and provide compensation for workplace injuries or deaths, even for private watchmen.

This Act, passed in 2009, was made possible by the founder members of the Guyana Association of Private Security Organisations (GAPSO). It specifies provisions for security guards and outlines the essential requirements for security companies.

For instance, any person or persons wishing to operate a private security business must get a licence to do so and pay an annual fee for that licence. Under the Act, “private security” means security provided by a company to protect or guard a person or property.

Further, the Act describes a private security agency as a person(s) engaged in the business of providing security services of private security guards to any industrial or business undertaking, company or society or any other person or property.

But many watchmen get no protection on the job and do not even get National Insurance Scheme (NIS) coverage. I strongly believe that GAPSO needs to put pressure on the government and the Commissioner of Police to rework Guyana’s Private Security Services Act to make it compulsory for employers of watchmen to provide them with protection. It should also specify the minimum level of protection.

Even though I was a founder member of GAPSO, and served as its president, secretary and treasurer, for a variety of reasons I am not an active member now. Nevertheless, I think it is appropriate to put pressure on the government and the Commissioner of Police, who is the administrator of private security services under the Act, to make it mandatory for financial and other provisions to be made to protect watchmen and guards and secure their interests.

The Act should include full NIS coverage for watchmen and guards. This is high-risk employment; therefore, the Act should make it mandatory for their employers to set aside at least $1 million to $2 million to cater for emergencies.

These funds are critical to assist security personnel in the event of injury on the job or to give to their families if they die in the course of duty. If this is too much for those engaging the services of watchmen and guards, then they ought to engage a private security service that makes such provisions.

In addition, these workers should get special coverage from NIS, which should be first in line to give compensation to them in the event of injury on the job, or to compensate their dependents if they die in the course of duty.

I founded RK’s Guyana Security Services and administered it for 39 years. I took out insurance for our security personnel, the first company to do so, setting the pace for others to follow. I am always happy to do this for security personnel because without them, how would businesses such as mine survive?

Even though all operators of such businesses are aware of this, not all of them pay their workers’ NIS contributions. Amazingly, such businesses are still able to get the necessary NIS compliance certificate so that they can bid for government contracts.

Security personnel are hardworking citizens. They are responsible for our survival and successes and we have to respect them and protect them. The revised Act should specify that people who employ their own security staff are providing a private internal security service. Therefore they have to get a licence that must be renewed annually at a cost. To do so without a licence is illegal, especially if the security staff are deprived of NIS coverage.

I am calling on the Commissioner of Police to guide the Ministry of Home Affairs and government so that they can tweak the Act appropriately to reflect this.

Furthermore, some aspects of the current Act are not wholesome because it was drafted by someone from India, who I believe based it on Indian culture and sub-continent systems that do not work in Guyana.

I am experienced in the local security industry where I have been operating since 1979. I am willing to talk to the relevant authorities and media in relation to this and give some free ideas based on my experience.

RK’s Guyana Security Services extends condolences to the family of watchman.

Yours faithfully,

Roshan Khan Sr

CEO/Chairman-Founder

RK’s Guyana Security Services

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