The problems of the poor never seem to disappear. And in Guyana, the challenges they face are getting more serious each day.
The streets are no longer made for walking. People are being robbed each day in our streets.
Poor people have no choice. They have to use public transportation. They cannot always afford a special hire to get from one location to the next. And so they walk and when they walk, they risk being robbed.
The ‘big boys’ in the government have their huge SUVs which move them around. They are protected by armed bodyguards. They are living in a different world to the one which ordinary workers have to face each day on their way to and from work.
Just yesterday, a video surfaced on social media showing security personal handing over a man to the police. It is suspected that he robbed a Cuban national.
Almost every day, Cubans are being robbed while shopping. There is going to be a fallout from this harassment which Cubans are facing. The Cubans are going to stop coming to do business and they will end up in Trinidad and Suriname whose Chinese-owned stores are courting Cuban shoppers.
The Cubans are keeping the business sector afloat. It is estimated that Cuban shoppers spend as much as US$1.5 M per week in stores along Regent Street. They also spend just as much on food, transportation and accommodation. The Cubans are making a contribution to business and it is their foreign currency which is helping to prevent another major devaluation of the Guyana dollar.
Most Regent Street stores are now open for business on Sundays. And the single factor responsible for this has been Cuban shoppers.
Given, the fact that the Cubans are good for business, we should have been protecting them rather than robbing them. A few months ago a young man was seen sprinting down a city street with a suitcase in his hand which he had stolen from a Cuban shopper.
The Cubans will stop coming here once this trend continues. They will prefer to go to Suriname and Trinidad which has just stores which sell just as cheap as the Chinese-owned stories here.
But it is not only Cubans who are being robbed. Locals are also being robbed. Two days ago, a small storeowner was robbed and shot in the leg. Everyday people get robbed in the vicinity of the Stabroek Market. The streets are not safe. Bicycle gangs are now operating openly. Young thugs are roaming around looking to snatch cell phones. Women are seen as easy targets.
Bandits are now slicing persons’ pockets while they are seated in minibuses. And they are also robbing pedestrians.
Poor people are forced to use the roadways. They do not have cars to take them from one destination to the next. They therefore have to walk.
This week a man who was walking along Church Street was beaten and strangled to death with his assailant’s belt. He reportedly tried to run away but could not get far.
Many ordinary public servants such as nurses have to walk from their places of work to get to the bus parks. Some of them have to do so when the place is dark and there are not many persons around. They are at risk of being robbed.
The government has erected high definition cameras around the city. These cameras allow for the identity of criminals to be determined easily. But it is not clear if these cameras are being deployed in the fight against crime.
There are persons walking around with knives and ice-picks in their waist. These can be used in robberies but the police are not stopping too many persons and searching them for these weapons.
Some thieves walk around with machetes. A teacher was chopped to his neck this week and robbed of his bicycle. A bandit on bicycle robbed a furniture store on the East Coast last Monday. If he had encountered someone with valuables on the road, heaven forbid what he would have done to that person.
People are scared and are panicking. Residents of Industry this past week reported the movement of some strange characters riding around their community.
While all of these atrocities are being committed, the police are concentrating in holding back protestors. Their priority is to control peaceful protests.
The crimes which find their way into the news usually involve robberies against rich people. But there are many robberies which are committed each day against ordinary citizens who have no choice but to walk the streets. These go uncounted and without recourse.
Our streets are not safe. They are no longer made for walking. Walk in peace and hope for the best!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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