Forging a national response to the crime wave Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
June 5, 2002

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THE private sector, touted as the engine of growth in the national economy, has said it is hurting badly from the impact of the current crime wave.

Not surprisingly, given the viciousness and impunity with which robbery attacks have been carried out since the five dangerous criminals escaped from the Georgetown Prison on February 23 last, business in the city has reportedly dropped off badly.

Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Ronald Gajraj on Monday again said, "we are very much cognisant of the situation and we are doing what is necessary to contain the situation and reduce the crime (and) eventually to deal with the criminal situation in a comprehensive manner."

The business community, however, like other sections of the population want more than such assurances and they have argued that the public should see more concrete mechanisms in place by the law enforcement agencies.

The fight against vicious criminals demands full backing by the public of the Police and the Army in their joint approach and to their credit, the private sector has expressed a willingness to help.

Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman, Mr. Brian James said his group met in an emergency session last Friday to assess the situation and has written President Bharrat Jagdeo seeking an audience with him to know exactly how the private sector can help.

He said the PSC has offered to help the law enforcement agencies and the meeting it seeks with the President will hopefully outline some concrete ways of how it can do so.

This is the kind of constructive approach required from all sections of the society if the rampage by the bandits is to be halted sooner rather than later, and since it has had dialogue on several issues previously with the President, we expect that the PSC's request for another meeting would be heeded.

A national response has to be forged in the search for the "comprehensive" approach to crime that President Jagdeo and Mr. Gajraj have referred to and the business community has put up several recommendations to help in the situation.

The Georgetown business community has seen a "massive" downturn in business and according to President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Mr. Eddie Boyer, the Government should seek external "interventions" to deal with the crime wave if this is required.

He on Monday, in a statement, advanced proposals which he feels the Government should consider, including having a visible and consistent Police presence in commercial zones; increasing vehicle searches at Georgetown's main points of ingress and egress; creating special zones in high risk commercial areas and having Police and military personnel assigned to predetermined strategic positions if these zones are attacked and sealing off the zone to flush out the criminals.

These and other ideas should be discussed and other organisations should come on board in a collective response to the serious crime crisis.

There has been too much suffering and too many people are hurting from the crime wave - but if they come together, all right-thinking Guyanese can deal a stunning blow to those who want to prey on the innocent and law-abiding.