Some traffic ranks should desist from terrorising Guyanese travelling public

Dear Editor,

The Stabroek News editorial on July 24, 2018, captioned “The mistreatment of police vehicles”, the frequent writings of Kaieteur News columnist Freddie Kissoon on the excesses of our Police Traffic ranks and the Guyana Times report on July 28, 2018 on the Tactical Service Unit rank charged for accepting a bribe to drop a traffic charge, all speak to a muted terrorism of the Guyanese travelling public.

It seems that Guyana’s paved roads are overrun with policemen in smartly attired uniforms and flashy police vehicles, with big sticks and/or guns who seek to be spongers, moochers and ‘fleecers.’ In short, we have some freeloader cops taking away precious freedom from Guyanese, freedom that obtains in the rest of the Caribbean Community.

If forty percent of these traffic ranks are transferred to non-traffic divisions and focus on carrying out their specified duties, our country will be blessed with a significant decline in criminal activity, and our countrymen and women will enjoy the freedom of driving our highways and byways.

Over eighty years ago, Jews were being stopped and arrested for persecution only. In Guyana, the reason is financial. No breach of traffic light – whether the light is working or not, or driving up a one way, or overtaking on a double lined road, vehicle lights are working, matters not – its pay day. The bribe is not only for the cop on the beat, but also for some of the chair bound senior officers who budget the necessary daily takings which need to be extracted from the humiliated travelling public that is stopped.

Drivers of motor vehicles, motorcycle riders, and pedal cyclists – exemptions appear to be made for oversized sport utility vehicles (SUVs), normally black in colour –  are asked to stop and then are directed to park for an indeterminable period of time, while the police rank subjugates more victims.

As the terrified, sweating and frustrated driver awaits his imagined and/or real ill-fate, he or she is already calculating how much will have to be served up to enjoy his/her freedom. The loss in productivity or the weather conditions or the urgent mission the driver is pursing, is of no consequence or meaning to the extracting cop.

Passersby and other travellers may see the cop signal the harried driver to follow the traffic vehicle. Don’t be deceived into thinking the driver is being taken to the police station. No-no, the destination is a relatively remote area for the handover.

From the early dewed morning to late in the night, you have some odious traffic ranks infesting our  highways and by-ways, like charlatans with a winning hand, these charlatans disgrace other policemen who act in a fit and proper manner to ensure a component of the good life for Guyanese. Trafficking in fear and abusing the freedom of Guyanese is terrorism.

Many Guyanese are so plagued and programmed with fear and trepidation of the bogus stop and search by the traffic rank that a few thousand dollars are already placed within their vehicle’s documents, which the rank will inevitably demand.

The new recruits into the Guyana Police Force have a preference to be in the Traffic Division and stop vehicles.

With all the non-traffic crime taking place in Guyana, the Guyana Police Force is able to have an excessive amount of traffic cops, and other policemen acting as traffic cops operate on a twenty four hour basis to stop drivers for undetermined and imagined offences by snatching riders off their motorcycles and bicycles, stopping all types of vehicles, and pretty much creating an oppressive environment for the travelling public.

The freedom that Guyanese should be allowed, as is the case in Antigua, Trinidad, Barbados, Suriname, and Jamaica, are suppressed by some of our ambitious and devious traffic ranks, via abusive and “skullduggerous” tactics. These rock-star ranks use in many instances – nonworking speed testers, and set up witless traffic checkpoints that convert a ten-minute drive into a wasted hour of one’s precious time. Some of the beat cops at these plainly capricious stops have the gumption to request a birthday present, and offer for sale tickets for a barbeque being held in Region One, or both.

The Police Force’s fleet of vehicles and motorcycles, which was presented by China and other international donors for a good cause, has instead become the obstruction and suppression of our freedom to ride and drive in peace.

I write this short note to ask the ruling administration to ensure that our police and traffic ranks desist from these repressive actions by making a special effort to curb this abuse of power that has resulted in a harassing environment for the Guyanese travelling public.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Hinds

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