Berbicians need a committee to monitor their problems
Stabroek News
December 5, 2001

Dear Editor,

Berbicians, for several years now, have been crying out for help against two forms of terrorism that have gripped their lives every day -(1) the terror of having their doors kicked down and being robbed or shot by gun toting bandits and (2) the terror of being taken to the New Amsterdam Hospital with a life threatening condition or a condition that brings forth a new life.

Following the Albion protest a few months ago Police security did improve somewhat, but the fear for life and liberty have always been ever present. Now, another Berbice family has been terrorised, this time by both the armed bandits and the New Amsterdam Public Hospital. Twenty-five year old Shahabudeen Kassim was mercilessly gunned down last Saturday evening by two bandits with sawn-off shotguns and had to wait 2 1/2 hours for emergency medical attention. We all grieve for his family, but the real tragedy here is that this could happen to any Berbice family, any time.

The good Minister Ramsammy is mad, as he should be, over this incident, and has ordered an immediate investigation. But this is like putting a band aid to heal a festered wound. It is time for every resident and every family not only to express their outrage against these inhuman acts of terrorism, but to accept equal responsibility for allowing this situation to continue, and to commit themselves to work collectively for a permanent solution. We have already exhausted the blame-game of "it's not my fault, it's the other guy's". Let us now, for our own sake and for the sake of our children and generations to come, agree on one thing: "we are mad as hell and we will not allow this terrorism to happen anymore".

We know that both the hospital and the police force are greatly affected by shortages of manpower, equipment and supplies, together with deplorable transportation and perpetual "blackouts", all of which are compounded by corruption and sickeningly poor wages relative to the cost of daily living. But irrespective of these constraints, there is absolutely no excuse for such callous disregard for human life.

We need a permanent bi-partisan/non-partisan Berbice Public Affairs Committee to constantly monitor the "service to the people" operation of Government Institutions- a committee charged with the responsibility of identifying the problems that inhibit their efficiency and making realistic and sincere efforts to effect solutions. We need , on this independent committee, a group of men and women of integrity whose content of character will empower them to challenge their respective political leaders if necessary, for the good of the people, while still exercising their right to party or religious loyalty. We need such a forum where every citizen can express their grievances and report incidents of corruption, victimization, discrimination or any other form of abuse without themselves being a victim of the complaint.

Yours faithfully,

Shawn Mangru