Georgetown, Guyana – (January 2, 2020) The Protected Areas Commission (PAC) strongly denies an accusation made by Kaieteur News columnist, Mr. Freddie Kissoon that President David Granger and Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon are responsible for the removal of his bicycle from the National Park’s premises.
In his column, published on December 29, 2019, Mr. Kissoon wrote: “When the PPP was in power, no bigwig in that government ordered the National Park authorities to stop me leaving my bicycle in the park. Because of my criticism of APNU+AFC, I was asked to remove it. The letter was arrogant with threats of legal action. All of this for a bicycle left in the park for the past 15 years. I complained to Dr. Raquel Thomas, the board chairman and Ms. Ndibi Schwiers, head of the Department of Environment. I was ignored. I believe either Joe Harmon or David Granger is behind this.”
The PAC is making it pellucid that the Commission is a semi-autonomous agency, and neither President Granger nor Mr. Harmon interferes with its day-to-day operations or management.
Further, the issue surrounding Mr. Kissoon parking his bicycle in the National Park is a longstanding one.
Mr. Kissoon’s bicycle cannot be accommodated in the main security building of the National Park and the Security Manager had, in October 2018, asked him to remove same citing impending security changes.
After refusing to do so, PAC Commissioner Ms. Denise Fraser had, on July 17, 2019, written to Mr. Kissoon formally requesting that he remove his bicycle from the main Security Building as it was a security breach and was hampering new measures that were put in place to regularize security operations at the PAC/National Parks Commission (NPC) locations countrywide.
Additionally, the PAC informed Mr. Kissoon that the building in which he claimed to have stored his bicycle for years (without official permission) now houses bicycles for the Park’s security patrols, along with other valuable equipment and is therefore now fully secured to prevent unauthorised persons gaining access.
The PAC is managed by a Board of Directors, comprising technical experts, which oversees its operations in keeping with the Protected Areas Act. This Act gives the PAC the mandate to establish, manage, maintain, promote and expand the National Protected Areas System, including the urban parks.
The PAC is also pleased to inform the public that its National Park Bike Patrols have been in full operation since October 2019 and citizens can expect to feel more secure when utilizing the facilities. The bicycles were purchased along with handheld radios, and patrols are conducted both at the National Park and the Botanical Gardens.