Indian bomb squad boosts local police team for CWC sweeps conducted at stadium, hotels
Stabroek News
March 29, 2007

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An eight-man bomb squad from India is in Guyana to avert any bomb threat during the six Super Eight cricket matches, the first of which was played yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee has announced.

The bomb experts are stationed at the Providence Stadium and have already conducted sweeps to detect whether any explosive device was planted in and around the stadium.

They have also made sweeps at the hotels and other areas where the teams, sponsors and officials are expected to visit. Rohee said too that two canine handlers from Trinidad and Tobago have arrived in the country as part of the regional security arrangements and they are stationed at Providence. World Cup cricket kicked off in Guyana yesterday with the second super eight match between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Security arrangements for the event have been intense, with local lawmen receiving training from a British firm as part of ICC/CWC regulations.

Yesterday, policemen armed with rifles and wearing bulletproof vests patrolled the streets of Georgetown and along the East Bank Demerara corridor, while there was heightened police presence on the East and West Coast Demerara.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, Rohee said he was satisfied with the security arrangements in place for the matches in Guyana. He said the police have been working hard and their work will pay off. "This will be a test for our security forces and I am confident that they will do us proud," Rohee declared.

He noted that the bomb team from India has swept the stadium and its environs and will work along with the police bomb disposal unit during the matches.

The minister said Guyana has taken note of the unfortunate incident in Jamaica where Pakistan Coach Bob Woolmer was strangled to death in his hotel room. No one has been arrested for Woolmer's killing as police in Kingston, Jamaican continue their investigations. Acting Police Commissioner, Henry Greene had told the media earlier this week that the Caricom Operations, Planning and Co-coordinating Staff (COPACS) had asked Guyana to increase its security at hotels and venues where the teams and other officials would stay during the Super Eight matches. COPACS has been in communication with Guyana to ensure that all the necessary arrangements are in place for the teams, officials, media and sponsors during their stay in Guyana.

"They have contacted us to ensure that we have all the security arrangements in place. I also think that it's in light of the death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer in a Jamaican hotel. All persons accessing the teams will be screened and that process has already begun," Greene told the media on Monday. He added that the security forces are ready to ensure the safety of all Guyanese and visitors during the matches.

From Monday, police ranks went in line and will continue this until the event is concluded. "It's all in-line, meaning that the ranks will have to work day and night; they will not be going home until the 10th [April]. We have to ensure that there is maximum security and that we will do," Greene said. At present a Joint Services operations centre is functioning at Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, to channel information that would be required by COPACS. Greene said members of the Joint Services are already deployed to conduct both river and land patrols and the Bomb Disposal Unit has also begun bomb-sweeping all the venues related to the matches including the airport. Additionally, Rohee announced at yesterday's press conference that Guyana would be sending 30 police ranks to Barbados after the completion of the matches here. The ranks would be going to assist law enforcement agents in Bridgetown as part of the regional security plan for CWC. On March 15, the National Assembly passed security legislation, which would allow the presence, activities, privileges and immunities of members of foreign police forces and civilian personnel during the period of the world cup.

Rohee further noted that nightly court sittings have been introduced at the Providence and Georgetown Magistrates' courts. This arrangement is only for the period of the world cup and it is aimed at speeding up cases in the courts, especially as it relates to cricket world cup. Each host country had to pass a set of legislation to protect sponsors' rights and other regulations for the world cup. Rohee said the night courts would deal expeditiously with any of these matters if anyone violates the sunset legislation.

Asked in the event of someone committing a crime at the stadium, which police station would deal with it, Rohee said he was not certain whether there was any special arrangement for this. He said that in such a case it might very well be dealt with in the usual fashion. There are three police stations along the East Bank in proximity to the stadium - Providence, Grove and the New Golden Grove.

In the area of immigration, Rohee said the staff at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and other ports of entry have been doing a great job so far. He said everything in this department has been up to standard and that Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Senior Superintendent George Vyphuis had briefed him and assured him that everything was running smoothly.

On the traffic front, Rohee said that the police have a prominent presence in the city and other areas. He said it was expected that ranks would be aggressive in enforcing the traffic laws, but at the same time, they are urged to be courteous and respectful.

Rohee said government has appointed him as the national security liaison for the world cup in the event of any crisis. He said Prem Misir, Information Liaison to the President would perform public affairs' duties.