Several times each day, police officers, who could only be deemed corrupt, have been patrolling the De Hoop branch road (which is an ungazetted road), preying on unlicensed drivers or unlicensed motor, vehicles looking for a bribe.
While I will not condone the breaking of the law, we need to look at the whole picture:
1. Many of the farmers who operate tractors and other heavy equipment in this area are illiterate, thus they are unable to pass the theoretical driving test. However, they are professionals when it comes to actually operating the machines.
2. These machines may only cross the road on their way to the back lands, and do not use the road daily, hence, many are unlicensed.
As a result of the above, corrupt police officers mainly from the Mahaica and Mahaicony Police Stations see these areas as a gold mine for bribery. Many days I thought that the President saw it fit to visit our area when I heard the wailing sirens, but as it got closer I realised that it was just the police chasing a hapless farmer. In fact, it is not uncommon to see the police vehicle going after a farmer operating his machinery on his private property. So desperate are these officers for bribe money.
Only yesterday a young lady, who is unlicensed, was driving a vehicle on her private property to attend a mandir. She was stopped by the police who demanded $20,000 in bribe or they would take her to the Mahaica Police Station. She refused to give them any money, so she was instructed to drive to the police station. She also refused to do so since she was on her private property and not on the public road. She locked her vehicle and walked away. In a desperate attempt to take the vehicle to the police station, the police broke the lock on the vehicle.
For being an unlicensed driver or driving a vehicle with expired documents, the police sometimes demand as much as $50,000. These officers would often patrol this ungazetted branch road even in the nights hoping to catch a farmer driving home who may have taken a drink after a hard day’s work.
After collecting a bribe, these very police officers, in their police uniform, would visit a rum shop and imbibe until they are drunk, then drive in that drunken state back to the police station. In fact, about a year ago after one of their drinking sessions one, of the officers crashed a police pick-up into a house along the De Hoop main road.
It may also be important to note that this unfortunate situation has taken a racial undertone since it is one particular ethnic group that is being targeted by police from another ethnic group. Thus, this is potentially an explosive situation especially since the residents are totally fed up and are at a breaking point.
In view of the above, I am hereby calling on the Commissioner of Police and the Commander of C Division to address this situation immediately.