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Real-life Jamaican encounter with a corrupt Guyanese traffic cop

GHK Lall’s Eye on the Issues

All law-abiding citizens should applaud Commissioner of Police (ag), Mr. David Ramnarine’s recent call on ranks to stop harassing the public or face the consequences.  Even as I commend this public posture of the CoP (ag), I must wonder whether this latest warning will not (like others before) fall on deaf ears.  To emphasize this concern, I share the recent experience of an upstanding, respected, and honorable citizen.  Creolese is employed (as was the case) to make the encounter more vivid in the minds of readers.

“Leh meh see yuh lycen.”  This is duly handed over.

“Wha is yuh name?”  License already handed over and scrutinized.  The tone is brusque and overall demeanor intended to be intimidating.

“Yuh paypaz dem rite?”  No asking for presentation of these papers.

“Yuh kno yuh guilty ah dangerous drivin?”

Driver: “How come?  On what basis did you arrive there?”

“I seh yuh drivin dangerously.  Ah gun gah fuhtek yuh dung to de stay-shun.”  Pause; pregnant pause; meaningful pause.  Momentary silence lingers all around.

“Wha yuh gat?”

“I beg your pardon, sir?”

“Ah haf to giv de adders in de stay-shun sumting.  How much yuh gat?”  Objective declared and out in the open; it is now down to brass tacks: part cajolery; part menace; and part negotiation.”

“Young man, you should be ashamed of yourself.  What you are doing is wrong.”  This is brushed off; ignored; dismissed.

“Well, wee goin to de stay-shun.”

“Okay, let’s go right now.”  Well nothing went anywhere: not money; not vehicles; not confronting parties.  The woman (it was a woman and a foreign born one) went to her place of work, and that was the end of that; well, at least for this brave sturdy individual.  For the weak and vacillating, and guilty it is mostly cowering and cooperating and compromising.

This is a typical, all-too-frequent example of what passes for traffic enforcement (and policing) in this town.  It is a serpent with head and omnipresent seeking tongue on the street, a large empty belly in the precinct, and an endless tail that might lead anywhere beyond and above.

This driver is a nonhazardous road user.  I would testify that this is a more considerate road user than me, and a great majority of citizens.  But this is the daily shakedown, professional predation and suppurating sickness that suffuses daily road travels.  Some bow to the inevitable; for some (taxi drivers) time is money, so here; for others, forking over two, three, or five paper (thousand) is a quick easy way out of the inconvenience.  Do the multiplication after several hours of road scavenging by traffic ranks, and there is enough for everybody for a day.  The routine resumes the next day.

It should be remembered the man at the desk (Station house) knows how the road works from previous hands-on experience.  Thus, let there be no tricks, no excuses, and no empty hands from those now responsible for patrolling the lucrative streets.  Get to work; produce; bring a stash.  The CoP (ag) has his work cut out for him in what is an institutional monstrosity.  This is a terrible state that will take some undoing, and much will.

All citizens should summon the courage and the principle to resist like the driver whose story is told here.

  • rudeo

    Bravo……shake-down a la institutionalized…….I wish the COP every success….but I dare say I am not holding my breath on this one!

  • Ashley Singh

    Quite befitting the Cops on the West Demerara.

  • Ashwan Singh

    They should start videotaping these encounters. This menace was started since the 1960’s and perpetrated until today. I must say that since the PNC got back the power in Guyana it has flared up with a major intensity, not that it ever disappeared. These are the same people with the same attitude of the “kick down door bandits” of the 1960’s to 1992. Let’s all save Guyana by being forceful in our denial of these diabolical miasmatic people the right to bully us !