Residents of Georgetown and its environs went into panic mode yesterday as rumours of a massive jailbreak at the Camp Street Prison circulated. People kept the telephones busy throughout the day, some reporting that there was a jailbreak during which as many as 60 prisoners escaped.
With sirens wailing, the Police, Fire Service and the Guyana Defence Force went into alert mode during what was later revealed to be a simulated exercise.
The ranks converged on the jail and several roadblocks were mounted as the joint services tested its reaction to a possible jailbreak scenario in the run-up to Guyana’s hosting of the CARICOM Heads of Government Summit beginning Thursday.
Deputy Director of Prisons, Poshnanand Tahal, said that the test was spontaneous. The call went out and the first police patrol responded within five minutes. The ranks later said that they were on patrol not far from the prisons.
Within 25 minutes the army, the police and the Guyana Fire Service had all responded, the latter dispatching three tenders and men to the scene.
Tahal said that the reaction time was good.
This was significant since there was no forward planning of the exercise and the ranks were unaware that they were being tested.
Roads leading to the prisons were shut down; traffic and pedestrians were diverted. People in the neighbourhood stayed indoors and looked through opened doors and windows.
Kaieteur News understands that an all station message was sent out and within minutes of its receipt, roadblocks were established along the Main East Coast Demerara Highway, with heavily armed ranks checking mini buses and other vehicles transporting multiple passengers.
Needless to point out was the fact that many commuters were initially alarmed by the posture of the security forces.
“Oh God, is more trouble again,” one female minibus passenger was overheard saying when news of the jailbreak reached her ears.
This newspaper received several telephone calls inquiring about a jailbreak.
The exercise lasted all of two hours but the calls kept coming on the back of the rumours.
Even persons as far as the Essequibo Coast were asking questions.
Later in the day, the Joint Services through the Police Public Relations Office issued a press release assuring the public that there was nothing to be alarmed about.
“The Joint Services wish to inform the general public that an exercise is being conducted today Monday June 29, 2009, in Georgetown involving the Georgetown Prison, Camp Street. The Joint Services are assuring citizens that there is no cause for alarm and is seeking their co-operation during the exercise,” the press release stated.
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