It was reported in SN on November 29 that the Ministry of Home Affairs has donated an aluminum boat with a 40 HP outboard engine to the Community Policing Division 3 for Wakenaam and Leguan islands in the Essequibo River. In handing over the boat, Minister Benn expressed the view that ‘it is a signaled effort that crime fighting at the community level will be successful since the boat will reinvigorate community safety and security through enhanced performance and professionalism’.
No information was given as to how this will be achieved particularly so with a boat which is ill-equipped and grossly under-powered for crime fighting on the channels of the Essequibo River. Further, the Chairman, Community Policing Division 3 expressed gratitude for the boat since as he stated its absence had hindered the islands’ crime fighting ability on the waterways.
In reality this boat will make little or no difference towards crime fighting on the islands for several reasons. Firstly, difficulties will be encountered getting the boat from its stored location to the river quickly since the boat is not supplied with a trailer and there are no ramps on the islands or secured mooring facilities for quick mobilization. Secondly, the waterways where the boat will operate are dangerous and it will take a ‘lifetime’ for this under-powered boat to reach hotspots where crimes are likely to occur. Thirdly, the islands have limited medical facilities and seriously ill patients often require emergency transportation to the Suddie and/or Vreed-en-Hoop Hospital. This boat is not equipped for such tasks.
The resources allocated to this boat for crime fighting on the waterways around Wakenaam and Leguan could have been better spent and more effective by equipping the Police Stations with SUV’s and a network of wireless equipment linking the police station with the policing communities located at strategic locations on the islands for quick and effective communication and appropriate action. The crimes committed on the islands are all land-based and therefore efforts to combat them should be directed at the areas where they are committed and not on monitoring the waterways hunting for elusive criminals.