Home Affairs Minister visits several Essequibo Islands
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– urges formation of more CPGs
Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, in a continuing effort to seek ways to improve the safety and security in communities, Saturday met with residents and Community Policing Group members in Leguan, Wakenaam, Hogg and Fort Islands in the Essequibo River.

A section of the residents of Hogg Island during the meeting with Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee.

These meetings afforded residents an opportunity to share their concerns and suggestions on improving their communities.

The Minister first visited Leguan, where he inspected the island’s police station and checked on its operations.

The first meeting was held at the Leguan Magistrate’s Court where residents expressed the need for a vehicle for the police officers. They also requested that a mechanism be set up to facilitate the issuance of driver’s licence, since it is costly to travel to other places where it is being done, such as Parika and Anna Regina.

The residents were also concerned about noise nuisance on the island and Minister Rohee informed them that his Ministry has started an aggressive campaign against this and he encouraged them to report all instances. He also promised to examine the possibility of sourcing a vehicle for the police station.

Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee inspecting operations at the Leguan Police Station.

He revealed that in his inspection of the station’s records there was a slight increase in the number of cases of domestic violence in the community. The Minister told residents that this is cause for concern and informed them of Government’s efforts against domestic violence.

Only four of Leguan’s 27 villages have Community Policing Groups (CPGs) which Minister Rohee said is unacceptable.

“We need to have a community policing group in almost every village or at least two villages combined; we have about 23 villages on this island that do not have CPGs, we need to improve that situation,” he said.

The Home Affairs Minister challenged residents to encourage others to join the CPG, since according to him, the strength of the Guyana Police Force is not commensurate with the population.

Leguan has an estimated population of 4,200, involved primarily in rice farming and cattle rearing. Other residents are employed in government administration, teaching, health care and policing. Leguan is situated next to Wakenaam and has five rice factories. The primary mode of transportation on Leguan is the bicycle.

After the meeting at Leguan, Minister Rohee travelled to Wakenaam, where he interfaced with residents and members of the CPGs at the Sans Souci Primary School. Residents requested more police officers and highlighted the need for domestic violence awareness sessions in the community. Members of the CPGs also requested bicycles.

Replying to these requests, the Home Affairs Minister said Government is working to recruit more officers and he reiterated his appeal for community members to join the force or the CPGs.

“You have to get involved, you have to go to the other villages where people complain of not having community policing and get them involved,’ he encouraged. Wakenaam has 21 villages and only six have CPGs.

Wakenaam is an island of about 17 square miles at the mouth of the Essequibo River and was settled at one time by the Dutch. The island’s economy, like most other islands in the Essequibo, is based on agriculture.

At the Western Hogg Island Primary School, residents told the Minister of problems they are facing, including destruction of their crops by wild animals. They also expressed the need for a permanent police outpost.

Minister Rohee disclosed that his Ministry has received several requests for establishment of police outposts. He noted however, that these are expensive ventures, and before they are established, certain procedures have to be followed, such as determining the ideal location.

Other residents said the island needs more qualified teachers. The Minister promised to relate this to his colleague, Minister of Education Shaik Baksh.

Hogg Island, the largest of the 365 islands in the Essequibo River, with a total area of 23 square miles, is larger than many of the Caribbean islands. Its 250 residents are engaged mainly in rice and ground provision farming.

The last trip on the Minister’s busy schedule was Fort Island, where he interacted with residents of that historic community. Illegal rum shops and stray animals were the main concerns raised. Residents also informed the Minister that the Island has no CPG.

Minister Rohee disclosed that his Ministry is collaborating closely with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to address the age old problem of illegal rum shops, and informed residents of the recently amended pound act.

The Home Affairs Minister also urged residents to look at the possibility of forming a CGP in their community.

Officials from the Home Affairs Ministry and the Guyana Police Force will visit Fort Island to explore the prospect of setting up a CPG in the area.

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