Corbin on fact-finding visit to Annandale

Guyana Chronicle
February 7, 2003

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NEWLY-ELECTED Leader of the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Mr. Robert Corbin, and a team of senior party officials yesterday visited the East Coast Demerara village of Annandale, where residents have been repeatedly attacked and robbed by criminal gangs from neighbouring Buxton.

The gangs have attacked homes and business places in Annandale and several residents were shot dead in the rampages, which began last year.

Most of those who spoke with the PNC/R `fact finding' mission, indicated that while there has been a lull in the crime wave since the increased presence of the Police and Army, tension is still high in the village.

The team accompanied by members of the media visited homes and businesses in north and south Annandale and listened to comments, suggestions and problems affecting the residents.

The team also viewed the various zinc fences set up, bridges removed between Buxton and Annandale and steel barricades on the Railway Embankment road.

Some villagers said they were disappointed that a PNC/R team was only now visiting the community after the terror attacks that began almost eight months ago.

Residents also expressed disappointment that Corbin gave no guarantee of his party's support for efforts to end the attacks on the village.

A number of businessmen and residents appealed for the nation to be at peace and for politicians to resolve their differences and work together.

One woman pointed out that prior to the robberies and killing, the two villages existed in peace and she yearns to see the return of harmonious relations.

During the visit the team also met business people and others who were robbed by the gangs from Buxton.

Corbin assured that his party stands ready to help and urged them to keep the faith.

He also sought suggestions from residents on measures to resolve the crime situation and their views on the barriers set up between the villages.

A businessman, Vickram Parsram, whose supermarket was robbed twice by the gangs, expressed his delight at the initiative taken by the PNC Leader noting that it could help ease the tension.

He said his business place is open during the morning and even during that period, he operates behind grill doors.

It is virtually impossible to do business under these circumstances, he said, and urged Corbin to work closely with the Government with a view to resolving the differences and finding a solution.

Parsram said his employees and most of his customers are from Buxton and he now has only a skeleton staff.

As the team moved from south to north Annandale the sizeable group attracted the attention of curious onlookers.

One businessman said he was surprised to see the team and was taken back at the gesture.

He added that patrols by the Joint Forces were making a difference in the villages.

A woman who sells beverages in a small shop in Annandale said the Army 's presence is a major boost in the community but she would still close her shop at 18:00 hrs and go home.

At the conclusion of the visit to Annandale, Corbin said, "physical barriers cannot help to heal our problems; we have to find a way of moulding the people and dealing with root causes so that there is no need for any physical barriers".

The team is expected to visit Buxton today on a similar `fact finding' mission.

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