'Crying out for help…
Best Village under siege by marauding gangs

- Villagers say they are a forgotten people
By Parvati Persaud-Edwards
THE unbearable, daily scourge of thefts, brutal attacks that traumatize and injure – with no recourse to justice, nor any expectations of help, is the refrain heard from almost every villager in the ironically-named Best Village – which is a complete misnomer, given the extant dynamics that are creating a hell out of what was once a haven.

This victim was mercilessly beaten by members of the cutlass wielding gang on Monday evening as he was walking along Best road (near the cemetery).

Residents tell horror stories of instances of brutal assault and robbery in bright daylight on the lonely stretch of road where the victims are beaten and left to die, of vehicular damage and theft, of home invasions. The list is endless. The attacks are increasing – and the terror is boundless.

Cutlass

The terror is boundless because the residents say they receive no co-operation from the authorities or the police.

Chronicle visited the area after numerous reports but the residents are so terrified they were hesitant to talk. Only a few persons ventured information on the traumatic occurrences that receive no attention from persons in authority who are mandated to address these matters before they reach tragic proportions.

The Best Village Road extends from the West Demerara Regional Hospital through approximately 800 metres of highly vegetative, almost forested area. There is a small, very overgrown cemetery with an access way leading to the squatting area behind the village.

This stretch of road is highly-dangerous, because it gets dark very early as the sun is blocked out by the vegetation. This, coupled with no street-lights creates a haven for bandits, who hide in the bushes, then pounce on vulnerable victims, with the greatest confidence that they would not be caught.

There is a robbery committed with impunity every day or night, and although the victims have identified the perpetrators many times, there are never any arrests.

The villagers cited instances where robberies occur right opposite, or in very close proximity to the police station, where the police took no action, resulting in the thieves getting cleanly away.

They said the police do not take statements most times, and if they do they do not investigate the crime.

They claim that even while the police are pretending that they cannot find the known perpetrators, most of whom they are familiar with, the miscreants traverse openly in front the police station, which leaves the victims fearful for their lives, because of the implications of these actions, or inaction, by the mavericks in the police force, whose ‘runnings’ might be cut with this expose.

‘WELCOME TO HELL’: High forested-like bushes, potholes the size of craters, no street-lights. This is BEST road!

The bandits do not only rob, but there are reports of sexual molestations as well.

Residents claimed that one particular bandit is believed to be afflicted with HIV/AIDS and he claims that he is already under a death sentence and is therefore not afraid of the bullet.

Another known perpetrator by the nickname of “Curry” is currently in custody for carnal knowledge at the Den Amstel Police Station and the villagers are praying that he would never be released.

The residents say that they dread the rainy weather, because the sound of the rain drowns the sound of the marauders as they pillage the property of the villagers, especially as they scaled fences and break into vehicles.

Ingress and egress to and from Best Village is so dangerous, and the roads are so full of crater-like potholes, that they cannot prevail on taxi drivers to provide service to their community.

Pleas for help to the NDC, according to the besieged residents, have proven futile. They say that they have even offered to purchase the street lights to be installed along the dangerous road, but to no avail.

Villagers are requesting, as a matter of priority, that the vegetation be removed, that the squatting area be sanitized, that the water provision be improved, that streetlights be installed, that the road be repaired, and, more important than all, that there be frequent police patrols in their community, and along the dangerous stretch of road.

Efforts by Chronicle to elicit a response from officials in the Klein-Pouderoyen/Best NDC to these concerns proved unsuccessful.

However, Region 3 Chairman, Julius Faerber, said that community-development projects have been identified and are soon to come on stream. These will be done under the GOG/IDB-funded Community Transformation Programme, which has been in the pipeline for a while, but which will soon fructify with initial major roadworks.

The residents claimed they have been hearing about these developments coming but always end up being disappointed.

They say that they would be happy when this development fructifies and they hope that this intervention would start the process of restoring their village once more to a haven – not for criminals, but for members of the community.

Thursday, August 06, 2009