There were three things I saw last Saturday, in the morning, that did not surprise me, but drove deeper into me the belief that this country will in the future implode and just become a deserted wasteland with just a handful of aging people like me left; the rest will be gone. No country can be so socially shambolic and survive.
The first encounter took place early in the morning with a published statement by the Guyana Revenue Authority. Let me provide some background details.
I did a column two weeks ago on what the GRA is doing. Drivers who bought their road vehicle licences in January, 2016, were visited with a moral depravity and a legal abomination when they went to take out in January 2017 the New Year’s licence. They were told that in April 2016, the Government raised the fees for a number of licences, including vehicular road licences, and it was retroactive to January 2016. Simply put, when you went in January 2016, there was a fixed price. GRA put an increase on retroactively so you had to find money to pay for something that you actually bought in the past.
GRA published a statement explaining that the situation has been corrected but carefully, astutely and deliberately failed to do two things in its press release. Apologize to those people that they coerced additional money from. Secondly, nowhere was the word, “retroactive” used. The question is why was the word carefully avoided? Any process, action or law that is retroactive is morally repugnant. The normal mind would not make a policy retroactive (that is assuming you have normal minds that make policies in Guyana). The normal mind tends, at the first instance, to express disgust at anything that is retroactive.
The second encounter. Around 9 a.m. about 20 yards west of Conversation Tree Road on the Railway Embankment, about a dozen ranks of anti-crime police and traffic cops had an exercise going. I parked my car about five yards east of the operation and watched. Police were stopping drivers at random. I was annoyed when at random they pulled over a motorcyclist and body-searched him, his bags, other possessions and his machine. This was in front of passersby. While the search was on, I asked him what the ranks told him when they stopped him. He said they just waved him to stop. I told the policemen they have to tell him they were doing so based on suspicion.
Now read on to see what a hellhole is Guyana. The officer in charge came up to me. I told him they cannot do random stops; it must be based on reasonable suspicion. He agreed. Christopher Ram drove up at the same time to ask me if I was alright. I told Mr. Ram what I was doing. Ram in turn told the officer-in-charge they cannot do routine halts. This is what the officer said to me and Mr. Ram – the ranks know they cannot make routine stops. You tell them that, but they still go ahead. Unbelievable! This man stood there and saw both traffic cops and his anti-crime squad waving people to pull over, yet had the temerity to tell me and Chris Ram that the ranks don’t listen. For three consecutive years the Commissioner has publicly stated that traffic ranks cannot randomly pull you over but it goes on daily. What a lawless country!
After witnessing the situation with the police, I drove home and in my compound, I was stopped by Bryan Mackintosh who recently got arrested by the city police during the first anti-parking meter protest. Bryan and I live in the same compound.
Bryan’s cousin told me he read my column where the grass-cutters were weeding the parapets on the Railway Embankment and bricks, debris and pieces of broken bottles were flying all over the place hitting passing vehicles. The cousin explains that this would never happen in Brazil, because he saw the way they do it.
He explained that they encircle the area that is being cut with a cotton canopy so flying objects cannot escape and hit people.
I asked Bryan to describe it more fully in a letter which I will get Kaieteur News to publish. Before I drove off, Bryan described a truly horrifying story. He said he was using his crass cutter in his yard and it picked up a sharp, little piece of zinc sheet, flung into the air and it stuck itself deeply into the outer wall of his house. Imagine if that had flown into someone’s face. Sadly that may happen because civilization has left Guyana.
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