Conclusions a bit misleading

Letter to the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
August 14, 2001

I WAS interested to read the editorial [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] `Fuzzy planning' in the Stabroek News of 11/08/01 and while I agree that the Government has been somewhat tardy in getting its act together with respect to the proposed construction of a bridge over the Takutu River, some of the conclusions presented by the article are a bit misleading.

Guyana is a vast country in relation to its population and one of the main problems with policing its borders has been lack of proper communications in the form of an adequate road network.

The editor should be aware that one of the first things the Romans did when they conquered Britain was to build roads. This facilitated the rapid movement of troops and maintained a line of supply which enabled them to control the territory under their administration.

The article bemoans the fact that Brazilian miners appear to have taken over the Kurupung area and this despite the fact that there is no bridge across the Takutu.

One also wonders how many Venezuelan miners may be operating in Guyana's western areas without our knowledge?

Actually any delay in building the Lethem-Georgetown highway will only prolong our inability to properly police our southern borders.

I am well aware that Guyana is coming under increasing attack in the east and west to our national security and in the south to our economic and social security.

Under the circumstances, I would suggest that the Government consider splitting the Army and Police into four divisions, with a central division in Georgetown, a southern division in Lethem, an eastern division possibly in Port Mourant and a western division in Anna Regina.

No doubt this will require additional personnel in both forces and provisions will have to be made for same in the national budget.

Each division could be allocated its own budget dependent on needs such as cattle rustling, cross border smuggling, illegal immigration etc.

Divisional commanders could meet monthly to coordinate strategy, policy and present briefings and discuss problems relating to overall command.

In relation to the present situation at Lethem with the building of the bridge over the Takutu River, I would suggest a detachment of about 200 army personnel and about 40-50 police personnel including customs and immigration authority.

This will require a large input in facilities such as barracks, housing, supply depot and other amenities.

How will this be achieved given the poor state of the Linden-Lethem trail?

Apart from acquiring all the necessary building materials etc., in neighbouring Bon Fim, the government could invest in a fleet of heavy-duty army trucks which could transport these supplies from Georgetown. When the initial stage is completed, some of the trucks could be used to maintain supplies to this area until such time as a proper road is constructed, the balance being dispatched to other areas as demand requires.

Finally, the contention that the road and port would be an attraction to drug smugglers may also be open to question, as anything crossing over the bridge will be open to closer scrutiny in the form of "sniffer dogs" and other modern electronic surveillance systems.

This has been proven to be the case in the "Channel Tunnel", where customs officers have more often than not been able to intercept large shipments of drugs and the cartel has favoured more devious routes.

The main problem has turned out to be tobacco and alcohol which may be more of a problem to the Brazilians.

In any event the completion of the highway and port will be about two to three years down the line and the Government should have ample time to put measures in place to deal with this situation.