Revisit Xmas security strategy
– business owners tell Police

Kaieteur News
March 21, 2007

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Business owners in the heart of the city want the Police to revisit their Christmas security strategy to reduce what appears to be a slight increase in brazen armed robberies.

They are all of the view that the Christmas operation was such a success that the administration will do well to repeat it, even if it means reducing the amount of ranks who are now performing desk jobs.

Criminal activity, especially armed robberies, has increased over the past month, culminating in the latest execution-style killing of ex-policeman Orlanzo Edwards, who was gunned down in Plaisance last Sunday night.

According to one businessman, criminal activity flourishes whenever there is a decrease in Police presence on the streets.

The businessman told this newspaper that, throughout the Christmas period and the Republic (Mashramani) celebrations, robberies were kept to an unprecedented minimum within recent times.

“As soon as the Police reduced their presence, up went the robberies. Some are even being committed right next to the Brickdam Police Station,” the businessman told Kaieteur News.

Early this year, following the success of the Christmas campaign, the Police had assured that they would maintain the same posture until after Cricket World Cup (CWC).

However, for the business community, this is not enough.

The business owners are appealing to the Force's administration to come up with some way of maintaining a highly visible Police presence, even after the World Cup.

“It makes no sense to have heightened Police presence up to a certain time. The bandits will just lie low and, as soon as security arrangements are scaled down, they are back in business,” a Robb Street storeowner noted.

Another businessman observed that the Police ranks themselves have become complacent, and cited a recent incident in which a high-powered machine gun was carelessly left on a car bonnet by ranks of a mobile patrol unit.

He opines that, although there is a fair bit of pressure on the ranks to go out every day and every night to perform, there must be some system of proper rotation, so that burnout and complacency do not become significant factors.

This newspaper was reliably informed that, following the Christmas security campaign, which was coordinated by Senior Superintendent Steve Merai, the Force had withdrawn most of the patrols and placed them under the command of an Assistant Superintendent.

However, at a recent meeting, it was decided that Merai, with his experience garnered from years of patrolling the city as part of the Target Special Squad, should be reinstated as coordinator.

A lot of planning has gone into the security for Cricket World Cup. This is being coordinated by Assistant Commissioner Paul Slowe, who also heads the ‘A' Division ( Georgetown ).

According to the Robb Street storeowner, already there is an increase in the presence of patrols around the city, which is expected to be bubbling with activity when visitors begin arriving en masse for the Guyana leg of CWC, which starts next week.

“We hope that, after the World Cup, the Police don't leave us at the mercy of the bandits. If they can do everything to protect them (tourists), it is their duty to protect us,” the businessman said.

With regards to the traffic arrangements, Traffic Chief Roland Alleyne has assured that there will be no hiccups during the Guyana leg of the mega sporting event, if motorists adhere to the measures that will be put in place.

In an invited comment, Alleyne said that only accredited vehicles will be allowed to use the eastern portion of the East Bank Demerara carriageway, if they are going in a southerly direction. All other traffic will be diverted to the western carriageway from the Rahaman Junction.

The Traffic Chief said that on match days, no lorry, animal-drawn vehicle, tractor and trailer, or low-bed vehicle will be permitted to use the East Bank Highway between 06:00 and 11:00 hours, and from 15:00 to 20:00 hours. A similar arrangement was put in place on the East Coast of Demerara for the recently held Rio Summit

“The road will not be shut off for the entire match days. We will make the call when we feel that the stadium is full and there is less traffic heading to the stadium. And when the matches are over, we will go back to the traffic restrictions,” the Traffic Chief informed.

Several persons had expressed their frustration during trial runs staged by the Police traffic department, when traffic was backed up for hours.

However the Traffic Chief stated that the western carriageway is as wide as the East Bank Demerara road south of Providence and can accommodate two-way traffic.

He said that the Police will still maintain their normal activity in the city during the Cricket World Cup period, since from all appearances, the much anticipated traffic lights will not be fully in place.

“Traffic Police will be all over the city,” Alleyne assured.