…urges tourists to drive with doors, windows locked; to avoid minibuses
Despite the Guyana Police Force’s announcement that it achieved a 10 per cent reduction in serious crime by December, the United Kingdom’s Cabinet Office has maintained an unflattering travel advisory to its citizens on Guyana as a tourism destination.
In this advisory, British citizens are warned about the crime situation in Guyana, as well as the “tough” conditions of the prison system, drug trafficking, the “poor road sense” of (other) road users and dangerously driven minibuses.
The advisory was issued by the Government Digital Service; part of the UK’s Cabinet Office. It was updated earlier this year and is current as of December 31, 2017. Citing the high crime levels and low Police capacity, the advisory warns citizens to take sensible precautions to protect themselves and their belongings.
“Muggings have taken place in broad daylight. Burglary and theft from cars are commonplace. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings. Try to avoid showing obvious signs of wealth,” the authorities warned in the advisory.
Among the precautions the advisory proposes is for persons to “always drive with doors and windows locked”. A warning is also given about travelling to specific areas. Tourists are told to avoid Tiger Bay and Albouystown, while taking extra care in Sophia, South Georgetown, Buxton and Agricola.
The advisory warns tourists to take special care in the Stabroek Market area, where “robberies are a daily occurrence”. It also recalls the January 2011 incident, when a grenade hurled at a shop killed one person. The advisory also warns tourists to avoid “walking alone around Georgetown, even in the main areas and don’t walk anywhere at night”.
Warning birding enthusiasts to be particularly vigilant, the UK Cabinet Office noted that several cases of assault have occurred in the Botanical Gardens. As such, it advised these individuals to go with an organised group if possible, and to avoid taking valuables on their person.
“If you walk along the seawall, avoid the more deserted stretches and walk at times when other walkers are most likely to be about, around 5 pm to 6 pm,” the advisory notes. “There are regular armed and violent robberies against businesses and individuals. There is a risk of passers-by being caught up in such incidents – the Police tend to respond with firearms if shot at or threatened.
“If possible, avoid travel to and from Georgetown Cheddi Jagan International Airport late at night and before dawn. There have been incidents of violence, fatal accidents caused by erratic driving and incidents of violent theft by gangs, who follow cars travelling from the airport and attack their victims when they reach their final destination,” the advisory states.
There is a separate section dealing with driving on Guyana’s roads and throughways. The advisory urges tourists to drive defensively and warns against using minibuses. According to the advisory, minibuses are responsible for most accidents in Guyana.
“Driving in Guyana can be dangerous because of poor road sense of road users, frequent hazards, inadequate lighting and poor road conditions in some areas. Drive defensively and limit driving at night as much as possible. The worst incidents have almost inevitably involved minibuses. When driving at night take extra care to avoid cyclists, pedestrians, and animals.
“Avoid using minibuses,” the advisory warns. “They are driven dangerously and are responsible for the majority of road accidents in Guyana. Although some taxis have been the target for robbers, they remain the safest means for visitors to get around town. Only use taxis from reputable companies. Don’t hail taxis from the roadside.”
According to the Police Force’s latest statistics at the end of November, there was a six per cent decrease in rape, a 27 per cent decrease in murder, a 16 per cent decrease in robbery under arms where firearms were used and a five per cent decrease in robbery under arms where instruments other than firearms were used
There was, however, an 11 per cent increase in robberies where no instruments were used, a 43 per cent increase in robbery with violence and a 47 per cent increase in robbery with aggravation. Larceny from the person increased by 11 per cent, but burglary and break-and-enter decreased by three and 16 per cent respectively.
In terms of traffic cases, the Police had noted that there was a 20 per cent decrease in fatal accidents at the end of November 2017. Serious, minor and damage accidents, the Force noted, were reduced by 10.1, 8.3 and 19 per cent respectively.