After years of advocacy, it is good news to hear the announcement that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) will finally enforce legislation which deals with the illegal sale of firecrackers. Every year, communities and villages are inundated with persons throwing firecrackers during Christmas and New Year’s.
To quote Region Three Police Commander Errol Watts: “The Guyana Police Force will ensure that we robustly enforce all laws with respect to the use of squibs and firecrackers around this time, so that our animals and people can be safer throughout this holiday period and beyond. Rest assured, I’m going to brief my commissioner and we’re going to ensure that we circulate nationally, instructions for this effort to be intensified so as to bring peace and tranquillity to our animals and safety to our people.”
As a matter of fact, this starts since Diwali celebrations. These little devices are no different from bombs. In the past, persons have paid the price for not heeding warnings to desist from playing with these explosives. Persons were left maimed, blind, and without limbs, among other irreparable harm, when the firecrackers exploded in their faces. Sadly, even toddlers and children have suffered severe burns from either playing with firecrackers or coming into contact with those that were lit by other persons. Yet, despite these many disasters, and in the face of repeated warnings, Guyanese still play with these explosives.
A ban was imposed on all fireworks, and persons caught selling the devices could face fines and jail time, as could persons caught playing with the items. But, if this year has been anything to go by, the Police have been incredibly weak in clamping down on this practice and in preventing the banned products from entering the country.
Only a few months ago, the Diwali celebrations were greeted by an overwhelming number of dangerous firecrackers popping around the country. The excessive noise suggests that very little – if anything at all – was done to ensure that the banned products were kept off the market. Too many citizens had banned firecrackers in their possession.
In some areas, young people assembled on the road, lit these explosives, and tossed them, being unconcerned about the danger in which they were placing innocent people, and the damage they could have done. Motorists are often times aggravated about this.
The wide use of firecrackers suggested that the products were easily available on the market, and the Police did not make it their duty to crack down on their illegal importation and sale.
The Police could say that tracking down illegal products and finding every seller of banned firecrackers in every nook and cranny in the country is difficult, perhaps impossible, to do; but that is not what we had in mind. Our contention is that, when it comes to smuggling, law enforcers are still not on top of the situation.
In previous years, when the Police targeted sellers of firecrackers in the lead-up to Diwali and Christmas celebrations, there was a major difference.
Playing with firecrackers is no longer fun. One of the major concerns about the practice is that citizens cannot distinguish between the sound of a firecracker popping and a gun being fired. With the proliferation of firecrackers during these holidays, gun-toting bandits would have an easy time escaping after committing their acts. So, if the Police want to prevent more serious crimes from happening, they might want to start paying attention to issues of seemingly lesser consequence, but which in truth hold many dangers.