As I write this letter, it is good that I can say that the electricity supply at the extreme south of the Essequibo Coast has improved, although not back to normal. Information received from many sources is that remedial work is taking place round-the-clock, which is good news.
The picketing that took place outside of the Guyana Power and Light (GHPL) on Friday, August 24, 2018, was not a bad idea. Picketing or protest in any form must not be condemned, but same must be within the confines of the law, which is clear and very simple.
An application has to be sent to the Divisional Commander of the Police Division stating place, time, the purpose, etc. before a given period of the planned protest. The Commander would in turn grant or may not approve the application, either way he would do so in writing, along with specific instruction if the request is granted. I am subject to be corrected here.
In the Kaieteur News of Thursday 30th August, 2018, page 20, there is the caption “Angry Essequibo Coast Residents reject G.P.L. Officials, demand ministers Presence” and a photograph showing about ten persons – about five holding placards. The most readable one says ‘we need answers GPL and in the space immediately below that photograph read, the scene at the R.D.C. Board Region # 2 following the meeting with GPL Officials yesterday, and the last paragraph of the article read that about 15 minutes following the commencement of the meeting, frustrated residents pulled out placards and staged an impromptu protest in the Region’s Boardroom.
Well for the reporter and the officials from GPL the protest may have been impromptu, but for the protesters, those who would have arranged, facilitated and took part, it was not. This protest would have taken place whether the subject Minister or any other Minister or the Chief Executive Officer of G.P.L. was there, and irrespective of the answers provided or assurances given.
The Regional Democratic Council Compound in any region, particularly the board room, is a place where discussions take place, training seminars, decisions are made, addresses to the people by the President, Prime Minister, Ministers of Government, Senior Government Officials and Diplomats, and should not and must not be used for protests or picketing exercises of any type or reasons; it is a reserved area; it is like keeping a party in a church, and playing loud and lewd music.
Answers need to be provided to a lot of questions.
1. Was permission sought and obtained?
2. By whom was it sought and granted?
3. Where were the Security personnel when the protesters entered the compound?
4. Under whose supervision does this building fall?
I served as a Regional Democratic Councillor in Region 2 for seven consecutive years, until permission was reluctantly granted by the General Secretary of the Alliance for Change for me to leave.
This protest action that took place in the boardroom of the R.D.C. must be condemned and investigated by the powers that be and the report made public.
While I may support a peaceful protest in front of any G.P.L. building or elsewhere, any protest within the confines of the compound or building is unthinkable, and the organizers and protesters would definitely lose some of the respect I have for them.
Archie W. Cordis
Former AFC Councillor
Region # 2
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