THE OUT-OF-CONTROL CRIME AND SECURITY SITUATION--PRESS STATEMENT Friday 16 April 2010




SUMMARY:
• The response of the Administration, to the APA Workshop, is full vindication of the PNCR’s often stated criticism that the so-called Consultations on the LCDS were farcical and primarily intended to deceive the international community;
• The PNCR calls on the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs to demonstrate their commitment and will to bring to justice the perpetrators of all crimes;
• The information presented in this Press Statement and all the available analyses suggest that the relief canal should be built between Flagstaff and the Mahaica River. Therefore, the Hope/Doch Four relief canal is not necessary and should not be built!

JAGDEO ADMINISTRATION AFRAID OF APA QUESTIONING THE LCDS

Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution states:

“The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for participation of citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

The vulgar display of intimidation, on 9 April 2010, spearheaded by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, decorously supported by Yvonne Pearson, Chairperson of the National Toshaos Council, using the resources and transport facilities of the State to mobilise a group of Amerindians to picket a Workshop organised by the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) in Georgetown, is ample evidence that the Jagdeo Administration does not respect the intentions and expectations of the framers of the Constitution.

According to the report in the Stabroek News of 10 April 2010:

“Following a recent conference organised by the APA, some indigenous leaders had said that LCDS outreach activities done last year lacked prior information, were often rushed and suffered from weak or non-existent translation support for communities.”

“The aim is for participants to develop a better understanding of all that is involved in what are very complex issues surrounding climate change, its impacts on indigenous communities and the pros and cons of mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

“The five-day workshop on ‘Indigenous Peoples Rights, Climate Change and the LCDS/REDD’ is for participants from regions 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9, and the main focus is on providing simplified information on climate change, REDD, the Low Carbon Development Strategy and related topics.”

The APA, “....also urged government and international agencies to put a hold on the implementation of policies related to projects like the LCDS and REDD+, until land rights issues are settled and asked that the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) be respected.”

However, the Minister and her cohorts seem affronted by the APA questioning the so-called Consultations which the Administration claims that they conducted with the Amerindian communities and accused the APA of communicating “misconceptions and half-truths.”

Ms Pearson accused the APA “.... of trying to put a hold on projects and policies which would bring benefit to Amerindians.” While Minister Sukhai pointed out that, “While the MOU may not offer much financially, it brings opportunities to address concerns of Amerindians including the demarcation, application and extension of lands.”

It seems that the Administration, based on the utterances of the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, and contrary to the intention of Article 13 of the Constitution, is arrogantly of the view that they should be the sole source of information on the LCDS to the Amerindian communities. Why should this be so?

In accordance with Article 13, the APA initiative is justified and appropriate. Therefore, instead of being condemned, they should be commended by the Administration for providing a very valuable service for the Amerindian communities.

The response of the Administration, to the APA Workshop, is full vindication of the PNCR’s often stated criticism that the so-called Consultations were farcical and primarily intended to deceive the international community.

THE OUT-OF-CONTROL CRIME AND SECURITY SITUATION

The cold blooded execution of Rajendra Motilall Sonilall, on Thursday 8th April 2010, at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara, is a stark reminder that the security of the Guyanese people remains very fragile. Mr. Motilall’s execution has pushed the number of murders for 2010 to approximately 34 murders, 31 having been confirmed at the end of March 2010.

While execution style killings did not begin in 2002, this form of murder gained center stage then and while there was a reduction in 2009 this year has already seen three such murders, the other victims being, Vibert Weeks and Nicholas Hoyte.

Perhaps, even more gruesome than these executions have been the savage murders of eight women, reportedly at the hands of their partners/former partners in the first three months of 2010. These victims include Omeka Todd, Usawatie Persaud, Jacqueline George and Liloutie Seeram.

When the almost daily violent robberies; child molestation and other heinous crimes are added to these murders and juxtaposed with the high percentage of unsolved crimes, the fragility of our security is even more stark.

Apart from the growing number of violent crimes and execution style murders, there is the daily reports which point to the rising levels of white collar criminality in many of the State institutions.

Organised crime and criminality, along with the now pervasive narco-enterprises, thriving in the environment of endemic corruption, seem to have taken control of the State.

The frightening reality is that it has become evident that the Guyana Police force is ill equipped to apply the needed modern investigative and sophisticated forensic methods necessary to combat and control the escalating and apparently out-of-control crime and security situation which has confronted the society.

The PNCR calls on the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Home Affairs to demonstrate their commitment and will to bring to justice the perpetrators of all crimes.

The PNCR renews it call for the establishment of an International Tribunal to investigate the links between the Jagdeo Administration and the criminal enterprise led by self confessed drug lord Roger Khan. We wish to remind the various PPP/C operatives, including Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who has been directly fingered in the Roger Khan spree of criminality and murder that the passage of time will not help them. We will continue to do all within our power to ensure that the families of the hundreds of Guyanese citizens who were murdered at the hands of Roger Khan and his associates finally receive justice.

THE IMPOSITION OF THE HOPE/DOCH FOUR CANAL ILLUSTRATES THE CALLOUSNESS AND ARROGANCE OF THE JAGDEO/PPP REGIME

In a document, dated 19 April 2009, and signed by 262 residents of the East Coast Demerara villages of Doch Four, Two Friends, Hope/Lowlands and Ann’s Grove, they stated that they were only made aware that the Hope/Doch Four canal was proposed on 7 February 2009, “...at a street corner meeting to which residents were invited by the Minister of Agriculture along with the Head and Surveyor from the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA).” The residents further stated that, “At no time were residents provided with anything in writing, either to justify the need for the new canal, or to show how the Government will calculate compensation for loss of homes, crops, livestock and farmlands. Nor has any explanation been provided to assure Doch Four and all surrounding communities that the new canal will not threaten human lives and livelihoods.”

The document also stated that, “On 23 March 2009, at the invitation of the Ministry of Agriculture, some forty residents from Doch Four met with officials of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Privatisation Unit, the NDIA and the Lands and Surveys. The request was repeated for a written document explaining what the project was intended to accomplish and why it had to pass through Doch Four. The officials informed the residents that a feasibility study had not been undertaken. They also confirmed that the new structure would be a high level, rather than a low level canal......”

The problem, for which the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is seeking an engineering solutions, is relief from the dangers of overtopping of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) during periods when there is a high accumulation of water therein.

The reality is that there are options other than the construction of the High Level Foreshore Discharge Option, commonly referred to as the Hope/Doch Four relief canal, which should be carefully evaluated. Therefore, it is nothing short of arrogance, insensitivity and the complete disregard for accountability and transparency in the expenditure of state resources (the resources belonging to the People of Guyana) that, for a project of this complexity, as well as one which will create some very serious environmental risks, neither a Feasibility Study nor an Environmental Impact Study have been undertaken.

In his letter to the Editor of the Kaieteur News, dated 1 February 2010, Mr. Charles Sohan, a very experienced and knowledgeable Guyanese Engineer, pointed out that, “In any event based on the preferred Canal location the designers have a number of complex and challenging engineering and financial problems to overcome before contract documents could be finalized.”

An initial estimate of the construction cost, for the Hope/Doch Four relief canal, before the final design and evaluation steps have been completed, is G$3.6Bn. However, if account is taken of: the cofferdam required for the 8 door sluice; the sea defence protection concrete walls at least 100 ft. both sides downstream of the outlet sluice; the length of the drainage channel and embankment over 10kms long; the road diversion with a high level pre-stressed concrete bridge along the main roadway; the access road for construction; and the access bridges across the canal, the cost is likely to be in excess of G$4.0Bn.

The major and most frightening environmental risk is the likely catastrophic consequence of a breach of the banks of this high-level canal, which, for eight of its 12 miles, would be about 8-9 feet higher than the surrounding terrain. Such a breach, apart from the possibility of the loss of lives, could cause considerable loss or damage to existing housing and other built infrastructure, as well as disrupt the livelihoods and well-being of the inhabitants in the surrounding communities of Dock Four, Two Friends, Hope/Lowlands and Ann’s Grove.

Yet, amazingly, according to the report in the Kaieteur News of 13 April 2010, “The technical phase of the Hope/Dochfour Relief Channel is over, excavation of the channel will begin shortly and the tender requests for construction of the necessary structures along the route of the relief channel will soon be advertised – this from the Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud.” The report also informs that, “According to the Minister, the actual excavation of the earthen channel will be undertaken by the government and will not be contracted out. The Ministry has purchased 10 excavators which are scheduled to arrive in the country shortly.”

In his letter to the Editor, Mr. Charles Sohan pointed out that, “It was evident from the Consultants report the proposed Canal at Hope/Dochfour will not alleviate flood risks per se from the EDWC but it could provide some measure of flood relief if it operated in conjunction with the Lama and Maduni Sluices discharging into the Mahaica River.”

In fact, the Consultants, appointed by the Government, stated, in their Report, that “the client instructed the Consultant to continue the design of the Relief Channel based upon the deep foreshore option and maintaining the width of the way-leave. Concerns were however expressed on excavating an outfall channel 2.5 km in length and maintaining it at an invert if 14.00m GD”. They further stated that “A much shorter relief channel route is possible between Flagstaff and the Mahaica River” and “It is possible that drainage in the Mahaica could be improved in the lower return period events. The Mahaica option would also need maintenance, but that requirement may not be any greater than the maintenance required for the Hope/Doch Four options. The capital cost of the Flagstaff – Mahaica relief route would be significantly lower than that of the Hope/Doch Four relief.”

From all the information and analyses accessed, it is clear that flood relief would only be effective, with or without the Hope/Doch Four canal, through the dredging of the Mahaica River as far upstream as beyond Belmonte, along with the removal of the sand bar from its mouth. In addition, there is the urgent need to dredge the approaches and rehabilitate the Lama, Maduni, Cunha and Kofi sluices, along with the canal leading to the Land of Canaan Spill Weir to restore the entire system to the original design capacity.

As Mr. Sohan recommended, “It is hoped that in their collective wisdom to resolve the many seemingly intractable water resources problems facing Guyana, the MoA/NDIA will proceed urgently to conclude arrangements with the World Bank to get the Conservancy Adaptation Study started since its findings will provide a blueprint for comprehensive strategic development of drainage, irrigation and flood control not only for EDWC but the coastland as well.”

The information presented above and all the available analyses suggest that the relief canal should be built between Flagstaff and the Mahaica River. Therefore, the Hope/Doch Four relief canal is not necessary and should not be built!


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana
Friday 16 April 2010