Following a warning from Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, speeding police ranks have paid out close to half a million to have Force vehicles that they damaged repaired.
Among them is a rank who almost ‘wrote off’ a brand new pickup, and who had to undergo further driving lessons after being charged.
The vehicles that have been damaged include some from the fleet of 56 pickups that the government of China donated last year to the Force. One of the pickups is said to cost between $4M to $6M in Guyanese currency.
A senior police official disclosed that for the year, about $450,000 has been taken out of the salaries of about five ranks who damaged police vehicles due to careless driving.
“They are not waiting to be called, they are paying immediately,” the source said.
In some cases, the money is taken out in monthly installments, when the ranks indicate that they are unable to immediately make full payment.
Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan had warned that money will be taken out of the salaries of ranks for the repair of vehicles.
But days after Ramjattan’s warning, a ‘B’ Division rank crashed one of the new pickups, PWW 5452, on the Cane Field Public Road, East Canje Berbic.
A senior traffic rank said that the repairs cost about $200,000 and was ‘fully paid” by the rank.
He was also charged with dangerous driving and was transferred to Traffic Headquarters, Eve Leary, to undergo “further training in defensive driving and ethics in driving.”
Then on May 22, Police Constable Wellon Carr, caused another of the new Foton Tunland pickups to overturn after crashing into a house at De Hoop, Mahaica.
Three of his colleagues received minor injuries. It was alleged that he lost control of the pickup, PWW 5411, after swerving from a cow. The constable was charged with dangerous driving.
Police Commissioner (ag), David Ramnarine, subsequently ordered a “thorough investigation” into the mishap.
Also in May, a speeding police vehicle overturned after colliding with a Rav4, PKK 9340 at the junction of Middleton Street and Campbell Avenue, Campbellville.
According to eyewitnesses, the Rav4 was travelling south into Middleton Street when the police vehicle that was speeding in Campbell Avenue slammed into the Rav4 causing the police vehicle to topple over.
The axle of the police pickup was broken and the front windscreen was damaged, along with the top of the vehicle.
A senior traffic official conceded that many ranks were still using the roads in a careless manner.
“Even if you have on your siren, that is no guarantee that other drivers will hear you, since the other drivers may be playing their music loudly or may have their windows wound up,” the official said.
On the day that the new vehicles were handed over to the Force, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan had warned that policemen will be expected to foot the bill for repairs to the vehicles they damage.
The Minister had noted that, “…you damage it, and bruise it up; we are going to surcharge you. When you come and say that it’s difficult and constraining, I will say ‘I warned you,’ so you are forewarned.”
Last year, Commissioner of Police (ag), Ramnarine also revealed that there were 23 accidents in 2017 involving vehicles either owned or driven by members of the Force. Four resulted in deaths.
He also confirmed that two police ranks who had damaged brand-new police vehicles are paying for the repairs.
“Apart from paying, there are departmental charges. Both ranks have been removed from their divisions,” Ramnarine said.
“In this case, you pay, you are being transferred, so it’s not just that ‘you’re wild, you crash the vehicle and you will get some friend to pay for the vehicle.’ It’s a whole host of things that will happen (to you) and we will keep it that way.”
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