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…migrants accuse ranks at Mabaruma of soliciting bribes
By Alva Solomon
Immigration officials at Mabaruma on Wednesday detained more than three dozen Venezuelan nationals who were heading to the city on the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD) ferry MV Kimbia.
Reports from Mabaruma are that the migrants boarded the ferry on Wednesday morning when it departed the Kumaka stelling at Mabaruma. Armed with documents purporting to show they were granted permission to travel, the migrants were heading to the city when immigration ranks at the port of entry at Morawhanna pulled them off the vessel. The vessel usually makes a last stop at Morawhanna before proceeding to Georgetown.
Police Commander for Region One, Superintendent Kahlid Mandall told the Village Voice News that the matter is under investigation. He said that while he could not divulge much information on the matter, he confirmed that a group of Venezuelans were arrested after they could not provide proper documentation to immigration officials. He said the investigators are trying to determine how the foreigners “ended up on the vessel in the first place. “
APNU+AFC Parliamentarian , Ronald Cox , who resides at Mabaruma told the Village Voice News the issue was worrisome. He said alarmingly , the incident occurs at a time when “Guyana is faced with a pandemic and there are specific measures with regards to overcrowding.” He called on the police commander of the region to fully investigate the incident.
A Venezuelan national who was among those detained reported that after they were detained at Morawhanna, the group was handed over to police and sent back to Mabaruma. The foreigner alleged that he and others paid an immigration rank at Mabaruma between $6000 and $8000 in the lead up to the trip , in order for the officer to sign permit papers to travel.
Another Venezuelan national who has Guyanese parentage told the Village Voice News that the practice by the immigration officers is nothing unusual. She alleged that she and others paid $5000 each in order to travel to Georgetown from Mabaruma several months ago. “I didn’t know they raise the price ,” she said of the improper act.
Venezuelans have been travelling to and from the neighbouring country via various ports-of-entry and many have used the routes connecting them to the business community at Kumaka outside Mabaruma as their first stop off point. From there they would board the ferry to travel to the capital.
In most cases, the foreign nationals are exploited along the way by persons as they seek a better living on these shores.