Jul 01, 2018  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

There are some things that cannot be hidden in a small population. Georgetown is the centre of Guyana in many, many ways. Even if you live outside of Georgetown, you will drive into Georgetown several times within a month or year to do things that are necessary. Of course in a small town, there are no secrets. People in the capital know which minister has which fancy car, they know which traffic cop shakes down motorists etc. All of this is because Georgetown’s population is small.
Georgetowners know who is dating whom, who is related to whom, who secretly went abroad for medical treatment, which lawyer is friendly with which judge. Most Georgetowners knew who to go to when they wanted bail in the High Court after being remanded by the magistrate. After a time, the character that did the liaison with the High Court judge became a well known name not only in Georgetown but its surrounding environs.
06f7c9_fd0dba4a493841398f756a195c71d262Do you know there is a man in this country that as a matter of routine, never dons a helmet when he is using his motor cycle? This guy rides around Georgetown and certain parts of Region Four all the time, without helmet, and the traffic cops know him, accept the situation and life goes on in Guyana. Many Georgetowners know who he is. I doubt the police would let Ronaldo, Messi, Tendulkar or Gayle to do that in their respective countries, even though they are so loved and admired by their country folks.
At one time, Georgetowners knew who the untouchable drug lords were. You saw the mansions they put up, you saw the expensive cars they drove, you saw their bodyguards when they went dining and shopping. I remember about ten years ago, this fellow would come into the National Park to jog and he would be enveloped by about five bodyguards. When other joggers passed Mr. Big, his bodyguards stared them down. A small town will always reveal its secrets; it is almost impossible not to.
Forgive this long digression, but I was laying the basis for my argument. My point is that the ongoing tint operation by the police force is a barefaced action against drivers who belong to a certain class only. The police know who to pull in for illegal tints. They know the types of cars the less wealthy drive – Raum, Spacio, Vitz, Premio, Allion etc. Check any police operation against illegal tints and you would see the type of motorists they have hauled in.
I see the operations often at Eve Leary, because I am a daily occupier of the Eve Leary seawall. Earlier this year there was a huge exercise near to the bandstand outside the Office of Professional Responsibility. They pulled in policemen whose vehicles were tinted and the tint had to be removed there and then. That exercise was in fact reported in the newspapers.
What is comical in this country is that while the tint crackdown is going on, you pass SUVs daily on the roadways with their dark, dark tint. So you say to yourself how come they have these frequent anti-tint confrontations, but you are seeing so many expensive SUVs with opaque tints driving around all the time. Please do not take my word for it. Just pass at Eve Leary when there is a tint crackdown, then drive off to the streets of Georgetown and you will see expensive SUVs with black, black tints.
I have no objection to SUV drivers escaping the tint dragnet. But if the State in Guyana has a law and order operation, then the State cannot be that barefaced to pick on lower income people only. It is nasty class bias. But is it really class discrimination or is it money talking? Expensive SUVs are owned by people who in many cases pay traffic ranks. Have the Guyanese public ever reflected on why for three consecutive years, the top brass of the police force have publicly stated that random stops by traffic ranks are improper, but these stops go on daily? It is a way of making money.
If the ranks make 50 routine stops on any major highway a day, about 20 erring drivers will pay a bribe. The amount depends on which offence you have committed. Expired fitness is $5000. Expired insurance is $5000. No driver’s licence is $10,000.
Routine stops will never stop because it nets a lot of money to corrupt policemen. And the senior officers are involved. I have seen senior officers in charge of operations when random stops are talking place. They are part of the conspiracy. The Guyana Police Force is riddled with corrupt ranks