The past week kept me grounded

November 4, 2012 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, My Column 

By Adam Harris

The past week was good if only because it included my birthday. There were positive national developments by way of getting the airport expansion one step closer to reality. But the biggest story had to do with a strange aircraft that left Ogle with one colour and a few hours later it was being presented as another.
The discovery exposed something that had been going on for a long time—drug smuggling. Guyana’s inability to track aircraft made this mode of smuggling all the more interesting and rewarding for the people who move large quantities of drugs.
There is just too much land space, so the construction of illegal airstrips is a dream. The only wonder is how the people survey the land to know that they could find a strip of land flat enough for an airstrip that could accommodate small aircraft.
But that is not the only surprising thing. Just as used to happen during the crime wave of 2002 to 2006, men can drive around with high-powered weapons which they would extract in a flash and let the bullets fly.
There was one such episode in Queenstown. That was a community that once knew no crime. It was the Beverly Hills of Guyana. Poor people rarely walked those streets.
In a little over four months, two men were gunned down in that community. The first was a fleeing criminal who had just staged a robbery in the vicinity of Bourda Market.
Then came an execution the other day. A man with a shady past happens to visit friends, but as he leaves machinegun fire rings out and he dies minutes later.
Needless to say, the police caught no one, but they pull in people they suspect of being close to the drug trade, question them then let them go, sometimes on station bail.
What had me thinking was the fact that the very police recovered scores of spent shells from the scenes of the shootings, but there is no word on whether the shells could be linked to other killings. And the public is none the wiser, because I suppose they all say that they are not involved and they are going to mind their own business.
Indeed the just concluded Commission of Inquiry into the Linden shootings exposed the shortcomings of the Guyana Police Force to the extent that a man said that today’s police are nothing but glorified security guards.
They have a man in hospital who sustained a gunshot wound. There is no effort to treat this person as someone of interest. The end result is that the person dies suddenly. Suspicion runs riot because the man was not supposed to die from his wounds. The post mortem is not yet conducted because red tape stipulates that a relative identify the body before there could be any post mortem.
A prominent physician dies and out of the woodwork come a heap of relatives. It turns out that not one of them was remotely related to the man. By then people had already stolen property. There is no criminal prosecution, because no one has made a formal complaint.
I worry about these things because I am convinced that we have intelligent people in the police force who could work as efficiently as any, in any part of the world, except that they await political direction for the greater part.
Things have reached the stage where I suspect, people await political direction before they undertake the smallest of investigations.
However, like the rest of the population, I am not going to involve myself in anything that is happening since the advent of the very mobile machineguns. I like life too much and never became interested in the life of the underworld.
And while I am still on police matters, I owe readers an apology for some errors in my last article. One W.D. Chand, by way of a letter, highlighted the mistakes I made. I had already examined these mistakes with an old friend, Neville Denny.
Indeed, the Police Commissioner was Ronald Weber and the Deputy Commissioner was Ian Puttock. Superintendent McLeod was Derek McLeod and Not James as I stated. The conversation between Weber and Phoenix stands.
Back in the 1962-63 period, I had lunch at James Phoenix’s home in the Eve Leary compound every day. I saw him when he was discharged from hospital and I spoke with him. Later when he became a priest and served at Bartica we had similar conversations about those turbulent days.
There was also something that disturbed me this past week. Three people died in a car in Suriname. They were heading to Paramaribo. The survivor was a woman I knew from the days when she was headmistress at the North Ruimveldt Multilateral School.
I got really involved in the matter when I got a call from a man I knew. Even as the media were identifying his brother as unknown, the man was telling me about his brother who happened to be driving the Sport Utility Vehicle.
Then I got a call from a relative of the survivor. She made me become involved. This woman had lost her husband just a year ago. He was involved in an accident and did not suffer life-threatening injuries, but he died. So I could imagine when this woman heard that her aunt was now involved in an accident and was believed to have died.
How did this car run off the road? Some suspect that it suffered a blow-out. Because we fail to recognize the importance of the tyres, some of us are mourning.
Children are now without parents and I am forced to recall something I wrote at the dawn of the year…that many who are welcoming the New Year will not live to see the end of it.

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