By Leroy Smith
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan has decided to enforce the 2am close off time for bars, nightclubs and restaurants across the country.
The Minister has also threatened to revoke or suspend the licenses of those businesses which do not comply with the law.
He made the disclosure while being grilled by journalists at a handing over ceremony of vehicles to the Guyana Police Force on Friday, July 03. According to Ramjattan, the Police Force has already been instructed to travel around and ensure the 2am curfew is enforced at all nightspots.
Ramjattan decided on this action in an effort to reduce crime, which has increased significantly over the past weeks.
“I would want all of them every single night to close at 2 and I have indicated to the business people that they would not get any assistance from me in that regard and the law will be upheld and there will also be sanctions of suspensions or revocation of their licenses, the requirements are that if you breach these and violate your licenses will be taken away,” the Public Security Minister said.
He however clarified that a different close off time will be imposed when there are regional and international artistes performing in the country.
“The regional and international shows will have its special permissions and the time period would be put on those shows too but I don’t know necessarily if that will apply. If there is a special show that can go until 4 am then fine, we will deal with that and that’s a show.”
He said too that already women rights groups, which have met with him, are in favor of the closure while on the other hand, the owners of clubs and restaurants have been lobbying him to pause on the enforcement of the law. Ramjattan is of the view that the opening of these entities pass the 2am curfew is a direct link to accidents, domestic violence and has a bigger negative impact on the economy of the country.
However, he has failed to provide any kind of evidence to support his claim in this regard. As a matter of fact, the Minister believes that Guyanese and other patrons of bars and nightclubs should spend their money “wisely” doing othe “things.”
His decision to enforce the law has been met with mixed reactions from the public, more specifically, businesses, which are stand to suffer. iNews had reported that Clairmont Cummings, the owner of Gravity Lounge and Nightclub had expressed his disapproval with Ramjattan’s decision, saying it was a weak approach to fight crime.
Already, promoters and other stakeholders in the entertainment sector have condemned the proposal saying that it is “foolishness”. Cummings noted that one of the central problems with this policy is that it assumes that nightclubs and alcohol are at the root of Guyana’s crime problems thereby ignoring more structural and systemic issues that play a more significant role in alleviating the scourge of lawlessness and crime.
According Cummings, instead of imposing a curfew, the government should seek to bolster the police presence in the streets and look at new strategies of crime fighting.