Last Updated on Sunday, 23 July 2023, 8:31 by Denis Chabrol
by GHK Lall
In classic Robeson Benn fashion, the Hon Minister of Home Affairs came out swinging for the fence. In CLR James parlance, it was aiming for beyond the boundary, when I consider the full import of what Minister Benn put on the table as his mini-project plan to crackdown on disorder in Region Four. I say this right away: if Minister Benn succeeds in getting half of the items that he has on his laundry list of disorders addressed in some satisfactory manner, a sustained one, then he would have done very well. Even if he achieves slightly less than 50% of his targets, he would still earn high praise from this source. I have always had a warm spot for the Internal Security Minister, and wish him the best in his endeavors.
Out of nowhere, and in less than the blink of an eye, Minister Benn issued his marching orders to the Guyana Police Force to get cracking and get things done that are eyesores, sores in the ear, and the cause of sores all over the national body. I shall withhold judgment and comment on whether the honorable minister is being too clever by half, or merely cute, with this rather sudden crackdown by the GPF that should soon be in full swing. That is, this crackdown involving numerous arms of the law is not a response to that ugly travel advisory from the United States warning its people to think it over before setting foot in Guyana. But here it is that the Minister himself is cracking the whip on his people in the GPF, and pushing them hard to crackdown harder on the numerous instances of lawlessness that now run rampant in Georgetown.
As the Minister rightly pointed out, Region Four is where most of the nasty action is in operation. According to the related Demerara Waves article of July 20th, Region Four is the trendsetter, and as it goes, the rest of the country follows. Thanks for that piece of wisdom, minister, for it is well said, with GT as the place to be where lawbreaking is the idea harbored. The minister started out slow and then gathered steam with one broadside after another at various criminal cultures now past the festering and oozing stages, so publicly pronounced they have become. What used to be frowned upon is now a source of inspiration and an impressive condition for the lawless.
In no special order, there is public drinking in crowded public spaces (like around municipal markets); there are noise nuisances at thunderous volumes from a variety of sources (bars, buses, cars, houses, parks), plus the little fellows on their human-propelled contraptions loudly advertising their large musical libraries. In addition, Minister Benn, now in full battle cry, targeted un-helmeted riders, and users of indecent language, among similar such worrying instances of total disregard for the law. If anybody can tame this unruly town, my money is on Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn. He is the kind of Denzil Washington type political actor (John Shaft style of heroic figure) who is capable of knocking sense into heads, and getting difficult things done. As an aside, who would believe that a sitting PPP Government Minister is actually leaning on the GPF to seize the equipment of repeat offenders where noise infractions wreak havoc on neighbors, communities, and the ambience of the capital. I am encouraged, but can’t wait to see how far this particular pressure will go, and how long it will last, given political connections, and the power of the pound (make that American dollar).
What the minister is doing is mainly taking aim at quality-of-life issues, using that old ‘broken window’ concept of policing made famous a few decades ago, but which fell into disrepute and disuse after gaining unwanted notoriety. It is about addressing the low hanging fruit, the visible and audible signs of disorderliness, and yanking them out by the roots before things became uncontrollable. This is overdue in Guyana, and starting in Region Four, with special attention to Georgetown, makes perfect sense. The signs of decadence and decay are all over, with new additions to the dreadfulness intensifying the anxieties of law-abiding citizens.
Regent Street and Robb Street came in for mention from Minister Benn. It was not anything that could be termed honorable mention, so I can foresee some street cleaning operations in the next few days. The problem with these hit-and-miss operations is that the offenders simply lie low and either return when the heat is off, or set up shop in a new location. Sustained operations are the keys to lasting success.
Guyanese all across the country, not just Region Four, could use the relief, and be comforted by the measures, specified by the minister. I watch to see how quickly what the minister called for is implemented, and with what results. Should Minister Benn emerge from his GPF crackdowns, he could be a prime candidate for President. Best wishes, minister. What works for Mr. Robeson Benn, works for this citizen, and I am sure countless other Guyanese. Go ahead! Clean up the town, sir.