President David Granger: Officials of the People’s Republic of China; Commissioner, Mr. David Ramnarine, and senior officers and members of the Guyana Police Force; distinguished guests; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen:
This is a magnificent day for public safety and human security in Guyana. The Guyana Police Force is the State’s principal public agency with responsibility for ensuring human safety; for ensuring the protection of every single citizen. That mandate is embedded in the Police Act, and allow me to quote verbatim from the Act
The Force shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime. The preservation of law and order; the preservation of peace; the repression of internal disturbance; the protection of property; the apprehension of offenders and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which it is directly charged.
A huge responsibility for our boys in blue and our officers in khaki. I congratulate you. Thank you for your applause. The role of the Guyana Police Force is further embedded and embellished in the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana which prescribes, and again I quote:
The Police Force, established under the Police Act, shall function in accordance with the law as a law enforcement agency of the State, responding to the daily needs to maintain law and order by suppressing crime, to ensure that citizens are safe in their homes, the streets and in other places.
It is our prime concern, ladies and gentlemen, to ensure that our citizens are safe. The threats to human safety and public security have increased in their variety and complexity. Those threats involve trafficking in illegal weapons; trafficking in illegal narcotics; trafficking in persons; money laundering and other crimes. The Guyana Police Force faces numerous challenges in suppressing these crimes within our national territory. They have to think about protecting our airspace; they have to protect our sea space; they have to protect our maritime resources and our rivers – they have much to do indeed.
Guyana, though small in comparison to the other States on this continent, is the largest State in the Caribbean Community; it has a two hundred and sixty kilometre coastline; it has over three thousand kilometres of land borders. Its landscape is variegated. It has extensive grasslands; it has highlands; it has wetlands; it has islands in the estuary of the Essequibo River, three of which are bigger than the British Virgin Islands; it has a long, flat coastland; it has rainforests, rivers; it has lakes; it has waterfalls. The Police Force has to cover the ground – all this ground.
Ladies and gentlemen, access to nearly seventy-five percent of our country, which is covered by forest, thank God, is difficult. This is a situation which is compounded by inadequate infrastructure. We do not have enough aerodromes; we do not have enough bridges, highways and stellings; yet the Police Force must cover this entire country. How will it do so?
Ladies and gentlemen, the vast area, the long distances, the limited communication and transportation assets which are available to the Guyana Police Force restrict its ability to effectively enforce the law everywhere in this country; this has been evident to us, and bitterly so, and most recently so in the Rupununi where we discovered foreign aircraft which penetrated our airspace and landed on our territory. Along our coastland, we’ve seen semi-submersible maritime vessels; both the foreign aircraft and the maritime vessels are likely to have brought contraband substances on to our territory without being detected by our law enforcement agencies. We cannot have a secure country if our borders and our territory are violated by criminals, by transnational crime. We need an efficient, we need a well-equipped, we need a well-trained Guyana Police Force in order to confront these threats to human safety and public security.
Ladies and gentlemen, our country must be secured at the local and regional and national and transnational levels in order to prevent crime; in order to prevent interpersonal violence; in order to prevent our territory from being abused and misused. Our environment must be protected to ensure that our natural resources are not plundered by foreign persons who have entered our country illegally.
Human safety must ensure that our communities are free from crime, that our children are allowed to grow up in safe and secure homes and neighbourhoods. Our womenfolk must be protected from domestic violence. How will we do that? We turn to the Guyana Police Force. It is the Guyana Police Force which exists to secure our country, to make our neighbourhoods safe and to protect our citizens from criminal violence. It is for this reason, as you’ve heard from Commissioner Ramnarine and from the Minister of State, that we restarted, with the permission of the British Government, the Security Sector Reform Project and next year that project will be transformed into a formal department in order to implement the recommendations which are now being crafted and drafted.
The Police Force, as part of that reform project, will adapt the same divisional structure as the Ten Administrative Regions of our country so that every Divisional Commander will be able to relate to a Regional Chairman in the RDC. Every capital town will be the headquarters of a police division so we won’t have one person commanding three interior divisions as exists at present. One region, one division. One division, one commander. That’s how it’s going to be.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Force’s efficiency will be enhanced further through improved management training and the provision of more and improved equipment. Your Government is committed to ensuring that the Force is given the tools to do the work which it is required to do. It is in that context, therefore, that the equipment being presented today by the People’s Republic of China to the Guyana Police Force recognises the need to enhance the spatial deployment of the Guyana Police Force to every region, to every nook and cranny, to every river, throughout the grasslands, throughout the wetlands.
Similarly, the Force must have the capability to respond to specific threats whether those threats are an intrusion into our territory by illegal aliens, illegal mining, contraband smuggling, gun-running, fuel smuggling. We are now, through this generous gift by the People’s Republic of China, better equipping our Police Force to respond to these threats. Once there is narco-trafficking there is going to be violence in the country. Once there is smuggling, trafficking in persons, there is going to be violence. So, let us stop that violence at the border to stop that violence from coming into our neighbourhoods and our homes. This equipment will be used primarily and principally in the technical branches of the Guyana Police Force.
Particularly, as you can see here, the transportation branch will be the main beneficiary and the Commissioner already has his directives about ensuring that these transportation assets will be looking just like this on the 6th of November next year – clean, efficient and serviceable. These assets will allow for the speedier movement across the country in any weather or terrain, by day or by night, to enable our law enforcement officers to reach crime scenes and the various destinations to continue their work of suppressing crime. The Traffic Branch will be equipped to enable better enforcement of the law for the safer use of our roadways and our highways where so many of our pedestrians, children included, perish. The Communications Branch will ensure reliable communications throughout the country by day or by night and I believe there will be generators at least from the outset, because in years to come they will be using solar panels, I’m sure.
Ladies and gentlemen, the acquisition of this communication and transportation and electrical generation equipment is a high security priority for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The Police Force’s technical branches must be strengthened so that they can contribute effectively to the Force’s overall mission of securing human safety and to enable it to execute its mandate of suppressing crime, including transnational crime.
Today, I’m very pleased to be here to welcome the donation of communications, transportation and electrical generation equipment, which will all improve the efficiency of the Guyana Police Force. The computers will reinforce the communications network between stations and headquarters, between headquarters and the divisions and between the divisions and central. The vehicles will improve the ability of law enforcement officers to travel to crime scenes, to conduct patrols.
Ladies and gentlemen, the government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana is grateful to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for its assistance today and over the years. Guyana and the Guyana Police Force are deeply grateful for the provision of this equipment and machinery you see before you. This ceremony is a demonstration that the Government of Guyana will spare no effort to ensure that the Police Force is equipped to confront the threats to human safety at the level of the household, of the citizen, of the community and of the country.
We look forward to further partnership with the People’s Republic of China, to the technological and training support that we have received from China, especially today, in the field of enhancing our law enforcement capability. The People’s Republic of China is a long-standing friend of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and today I thank China for this incomparable donation of vehicles and equipment, a donation which certainly will help to protect our citizens and safeguard the security of our country.
I thank you.