“The public expects the police to enforce the law in a lawful manner. It expects the courts to hold inquests to examine the circumstances surrounding unlawful killings. It expects the administration to perform its duty to protect the public from the scourge of murder by an underworld dominated by drugs and guns. Killings have become commonplace owing as much to the criminality of nihilistic bandits and sadistic ‘phantom’ squads as to the incapacity of those who have failed to bring them to justice.” – David Granger
History will record that Guyanese lost confidence in the PPP and voted them out of office in May 2015 because that party persistently failed to address the people’s basic needs for safety and security.
Fast forward to 2019, just four years after being kicked out of office, the PPP is asking the people of Guyana to forget their sordid record and give them a second chance. In other words, the PPP wants Guyanese to forget that it was under their watch that, contraband smuggling was prevalent; narco-trafficking and gun-running were common place; gun crimes were at an all-time high; drug death squads roamed the streets causing hundreds of unsolved murders, including the murders of Journalist Ronald Waddell and activist Courtney Crum-Ewing.
Human trafficking was common place, causing the US State Department to place Guyana on their ‘watch list’; crimes such as bribery, armed robbery, arson, inter personal violence, murder, piracy, rapes all increased under the PPP. The Guyana Police Force was starved of the resources and training they so badly needed.
Under the PPP government great damage was done to the security of our country, especially between the years 2000 and 2008, which we refer to as the ‘Troubles’. The extent of the damage during that period, was so extensive, the security sector is still recovering. However, the APNU +AFC government is committed to security sector reform; we are committed to restoring law and order in Guyana; we are fixing the damage so that integrity and trust in our security forces is restored.
Crime is an issue that cuts across all demographics. A safe country and safe communities are extremely important in building investor confidence. A safe environment helps to create jobs, because businesses have the confidence to invest and people have confidence to spend.
Guyana will not have a job culture, especially among our young people, if we have a drug culture. In just four short years under the APNU+AFC government, Guyana is finally moving in the right direction. Serious crime has been reduced from over 3, 600 incidents in 2014 to just under 2, 700 incidents in 2018, a decrease of 25%.
The Guyana Police Force has been expanded and given the resources and training they need to fight crime. Unlike under the PPP, today crimes are being solved. Specialist police units have been established to fight organised criminal gangs that once controlled our country. Due to these initiatives, there has been a 25% drop in murders from 149 t0 111; and also a drop in reported rapes, burglary and breaking and entering.
Guyana saw crime spiral out of control under the previous government. A narco-state developed that took hold of our country, with organised gangs and drug-lords calling the shots. Under the APNU+AFC, the National Anti-Narcotics Agency-NANA – was established by the Coalition government to tackle drug-trafficking.
As a result, we have seen an increase in narcotic seizures, with over 800 kg of cocaine, 65,000kg of cannabis and 1,900kg of heroin seized between 2017 and 2018. Guyanese authorities initiated 503 prosecutions and convicted 227 individuals for narcotics trafficking during the same period.
As part of a US$17.8 million ($3.7B) grant from Japan, 7,000 LED street lamps have been installed along major roads and highways and a further 2,000 lamps in communities all across Guyana to ensure better lit roads for better safety and security. The thousands of street lights and CCTV cameras that have been installed under the APNU+AFC have had a positive effect on public safety. In many regions, the installation of these street lights have caused a reduction in petty crimes. Residents across 7 constituencies in the East Berbice-Corentyne Region are no longer afraid to venture out at night, all due to the newly-installed street lighting.
Great efforts have been made under the APNU+AFC government to rid Guyana of corruption. Our efforts in this regard have been recognised internationally, with Guyana highlighted as one of the four biggest improvers on the Transparency International Corruption Index.
Under this government, Guyana has seen a 27.5% improvement in its ranking from this respected organisation, rising from 29 to 37 since 2015. In 2017, despite obstruction from the PPP and in keeping with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, (UNAC), the State Asset Recovery Act was passed in the National Assembly.
It is also apposite to note that APNU+AFC kept its campaign promise and established the Public Procurement Commission to monitor and review all government’s sourcing of goods and services and execution of works are done in a transparent, cost competitive and fair manner. This government also passed the Protected Disclosures (whistle blower act) Bill to combat corruption, by encouraging and facilitating disclosures of improper conduct in both the private and public sector.
In all of this we must not forget that the PPP’s Presidential candidate, Mr. Irfaan Ali is still before the court facing 19 charges for his role in an alleged conspiracy to defraud the state of some $174 million, and the authenticity of his academic qualifications are still in question. It is interesting and telling that on this issues that speaks to his honesty and trustworthiness, the candidate has refused to clear his name.
APNU/AFC calls on all Guyanese to support the APNU +AFC and our plan to crack down on crime and corruption. We are making progress, but it is still only the beginning. We must not forget. The PPP ruled Guyana for more than two decades and during that time they proved that they are incapable of governing in the interest of all the people.
During its 23 years in office, the PPP Government established an unenviable record of criminality, corruption, human rights abuse, abuse of power, obstruction of justice and incompetence. The PPP would now like for all of us to pretend that none of this happened. The PPP is depending on short memories of the people that the people of Guyana whose safety and security they neglected while in office will now forget, the lessons of the recent past and allow a return of the criminalised narco-state that existed under their governance.
In four short years the APNU+AFC coalition has tackled serious crime and made our communities safer. However, although progress has been made, real change is neither quick to come by or easy to establish, especially after decades of neglect by the PPP. There is still a lot to more to do. Together, let’s keep moving forward!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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