Inadequate intelligence hampering police work -President By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
June 2, 2002

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The major problem facing law enforcement officers in their quest to capture the five prison escapees and other criminals responsible for the recent spate of criminal activity is inadequate information.

Responding to a question posed by Stabroek News last Saturday evening at a press conference held at State House in New Amsterdam, President Bharrat Jagdeo said this was related to him by Commissioner of Police Floyd McDonald. He was asked what difficulties the police were facing in their attempts to apprehend the perpetrators of recent crimes. According to the Head of State the police are not restrained in soliciting the assistance of the army in their campaign saying, "the army is involved in the fight against the criminals". The President and his Cabinet had been on an outreach in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).

Earlier, he disclosed that the issue of security was discussed at Friday's cabinet meeting at Skeldon. "The top priority of the government remains the capture of the five escapees and protecting our policemen. There is need for a comprehensive approach to crime in Guyana", he said, noting that this approach was explored at the cabinet meeting. According to Jagdeo "the problem is a criminal one and not political", but added "some opposition elements are linked to the criminals".

The head of state was also critical of local human rights groups, which he said have been censorious of the police in the past but were now "strangely silent". "I hope they would speak out against the killing of policemen".

The press conference culminated a two-day visit to the region by the President and his cabinet. Accompanying him at the press conference were Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon and Ministers Anthony Xavier, Shaik Baksh and Dr Leslie Ramsammy. Among the issues discussed at the Friday cabinet meeting were: Guysuco's modernisation plan, information technology, water supply and housing, education, health care and the problems facing the bauxite communities. "We also explored ways of bringing further relief to the bauxite communities and it is our intention to explore ways of expanding economic life in Kwakwani". Jagdeo said he intends to visit Kwakwani within a week.

Over the two days (Friday and Saturday) the President and his team held several community meetings along the Corentyne Coast, visited markets at Port Mourant and Corriverton and met the business community at Corriverton. He also officiated at the opening of a new health centre at Edinburgh, East Bank Berbice and handed over computers to youths in the Fyrish area.

According to the President, some of the issues raised by Berbicians included the state of roads, water supply, drainage and irrigation, flooding in Black Bush Polder, the non-responsiveness of local government officials, corruption and shoddy work by some contractors including those who have worked in the Black Bush Polder agricultural scheme.

Touching on the problem facing farmers in the polder following recent floods and the paddy bug infestation, the head of state said that government has agreed to provide $3 million to assist farmers who suffered losses. Asked about the East Bank Berbice road which is in a deplorable state, he said remedial work is to be conducted this year and noted that structural work would cost billions.

Both the head of state and Dr Luncheon described the visit as "successful and productive". Jagdeo said while he was dissatisfied with some of the meetings, he was satisfied with the overall response. Following the conference, a reception was hosted at State House by the Head of State which was attended by scores of Berbicians