We at this publication are compelled to call matters for what they are, as we are left with no other choice. It is a critical matter of self-protection and national survival. Regardless of the angle from which looked at, there has been dereliction of duty.
No Guyanese has to be in the military to be familiar with the duties and obligations that are mandatorily required at this hour, this most testing of times in this society. For what we have is a crisis on our hands which, if left unmanaged or is mismanaged – be it accidentally or incompetently or deliberately – could very well lead to the worst of national catastrophes.
Something has to be done, many things, but nothing of substance is happening. Not at the ministerial level, not at the presidential level. We have to say it without shrinking, and we do. On this issue, this existential threat, involving the raging COVID-19, still unknown as to where it accurately and honestly is in Guyana, the opposition could be allowed a temporary pass. But the politics has to stop and stop immediately.
His Lordship the Mayor of the city of Georgetown, the epicentre of life in Guyana, says he has no legal authority to lockdown the capital. He may or may not be right, but the same cannot be said of His Excellency, President David Granger. Our wellbeing and very existence are at stake. This is not the time for politics or continuing elections antics.
This is the time for the priorities demanded by the potential of coronavirus to inundate us and overwhelm us; to supersede all other calculations and visions. Put a pause on matters concerning elections. Escalate the campaign called for to confront and combat the virus. To do anything other than what is called for would be tantamount to a gross dereliction of duty.
We appeal to the president to do what is not just necessary, but absolutely mandatory now. Do the right thing and do it now. Lockdown the country and lock it down beginning today.
Already it may be too late. Many have more misgivings about the official numbers that are coming out of the Ministry of Public Health, relative to confirmed cases. Not when our people are milling about in congested places like parks and marketplaces; not when pensioners are lining up in numbers outside post offices; not when schools are closed, and the traffic lanes across the Harbour Bridge are clogged and the lines snake all the way back to Vreed-en-Hoop.
Those commuters are going somewhere, and congregating somewhere, whether in offices or shops or other public spaces. Nobody knows who has anything, or who could contract anything in any place.
It flies in the face of good sense to shut down the airports and partially close the borders, but leave the densest gatherings alone and on their own. We say partial for some of the borders, because there are reports of breaches and people still arriving here from other neighbouring countries. What they bring and where they go is anybody’s guess.
We urge respectfully, but most strenuously, close the country down. Close it now. Please do not play with our lives, already made wretched and empty due to elections calculations.
Whatever the visions, whatever the contemplations, we would hope that it is not to stretch out the legal approaches before the courts to maximize the calendar and then if matters go against, then, and only then, move urgently to declare a state of national lockdown, which is what should have been effected a long time ago.
We at this paper would hope – indeed, take serious objection – that the citizens of this country are not being used as electoral cannon fodder in the daily frontlines of what is a war against an unseen and unknown enemy, a mortal enemy that knows neither race nor winner.
Do not do this to the peoples of this nation, be they supporters or others. This is the time to stand down from elections foolishness and insanities that have dragged on too long, and which have dragged us all down into an irrecoverable place.
We call on President David Granger to do the right thing and take charge, by leading from the front, on this the greatest challenge that this young nation has ever faced. Because what he is doing (or not doing) does not make any sense anymore. Nobody trusts the official numbers anymore, not when Trinidad has reported five times as many confirmed cases as us. Not with our fragile and very limited healthcare system. Not when we are still a visibly wide-open society in quite a few places.
Private businesses have taken the timely and commendable step of narrowing their hours. Businesses are going to suffer and so, too, will workers who may be sent home to save them. Businesses and workers are going to need urgent help, material help. Let government arrangements be made to tide them over for a time, while a comprehensive ban on all but essential services is put in place. Seek some immediate access to some funding from that oil revenue deposit.
This is not the time for politicking, nor the time for elections nor the outcome of the courts. Now is the time for President Granger to lead. The baton stops with him. To do otherwise would amount to dereliction of duty of the gravest kind.
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