Oct 03, 2012 Editorial
In July the people of Linden exposed the woes of single thoroughfares. They shut down the road that provided access between the hinterland and the city for a month with serious consequences for the country. The miners and loggers in the hinterland could not move their goods. They also could not access food and the other things necessary for their business.
People as far away as the Rupununi felt the impact of that shut down. Fuel necessary for their movement and for the electricity plants could not reach. Like their other hinterland colleagues they could not get food.
At the same time the people of Linden could not travel to the city because the transport system had ground to a halt. This situation lasted for a month and the nation suffered. President Donald Ramotar recognized the effect because he later said that the Brazilians who are keen to construct a road to coastal Guyana were now considering bypassing Linden.
It was more of the same a few years earlier when Buxton was the hotbed of tensions. People travelling to and from the city from the eastern part of the country were held at siege. It took a permanent military presence and patrols to keep that thoroughfare open.
On Thursday, the people of Agricola shut down passage along the East Bank Demerara corridor by blocking both thoroughfares and by burning tyres across the roadway. For more than five hours there was no movement of traffic in either direction and once more the people of the country recognized the disadvantages of having one main thoroughfare.
In our case, this situation could not be helped. The bulk of the population is concentrated in and around the city. For those who live on West Demerara, the days are long past when the Demerara River was the link between those communities and the city. We will continue to have single thoroughfares leading to out of town communities. However, somewhere gathering dust is a plan to construct a parallel East Bank Demerara roadway because of the traffic congestion. And the problem would increasingly be to keep these thoroughfares open.
Thursday’s blocking of the streets, it is said, was sparked by comments made by the Cabinet Secretary and by what the people saw as the preferential treatment meted out to a prisoner accused of killing a young man in Agricola.
Surely the situation could have been avoided. Regardless of how the police may feel about one of their own there are certain rules and norms that must be observed. A prisoner must be treated as such despite the arguments that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Guyanese firmly believe that a person is guilty until proven innocent. The prisoner should have been made to sit with other prisoners. If the escorts felt that his well-being would have been threatened then transport him in a separate vehicle. People would have expected to see him in handcuffs. They were fed a daily diet of such treatment of prisoners, first when Mark Benschop was placed before the courts on treason charges, again when three East Bank Demerara residents were again charged with treason, and when those arrested for a spate of murders and armed robberies were brought before the courts. The stage for the treatment of prisoners had been set.
Then there were the comments by the Cabinet Secretary in defence of the embattled Home Affairs Minister. He said that regardless of how strident are the opposition calls for the removal of the Home Affairs Minister and regardless of the accusations, the government will not budge. It will not bow to opposition challenges.
Then the Cabinet Secretary sang. The people said that he was not only inconsiderate, but also mocking of their efforts. In times of tension people are likely to explode and the people of Agricola did. And in any crisis situation the criminals will make hay. They detracted from the protest when they robbed hapless people trying to either head home or head to work.
One would expect that many would not now have sympathy for the people of Agricola. Many who were critical of the police actions wanted the police to deal condignly with those who exposed them to the criminals. He who feels it knows it.
Guyanese you are being prostituted by your politicians!
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