By KYLE WALKINE
Tribune Staff Reporter
CENTRAL Grand Bahama MP Neko Grant yesterday urged the government to put more effort into the fight against crime as citizens are being “suffocated” by the crime.
During his contribution to the annual Budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday Mr Grant said that murder is up considerably, compared to last year, despite National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage saying that there was a decrease.
“Unlike some, I continue to be very concerned about the crime situation in Grand Bahama,” Mr Grant said of his home town. “Three murders in 36 hours and four within a week is too much. The eighth murder for 2014 so far doubles the murder counter for 2013 in its entirety. There is certainly much reason for concern.”
On Sunday, the country recorded its 60th murder this year, according to The Tribune’s count, when 17-year-old Enrico Major was stabbed to death by a group of men as he walked on Baillou Hill Road south with a friend.
“Not a day goes by without a major crime being committed. Daily shootings have become the norm. Stabbings are a close second,” he said.
Mr Grant added that if crime was a fire, then it would appear as though it were breathing fire because it is “ablaze like a torch.”
The FNM MP reminded the PLP of their 2012 campaign tactic of placing billboards in western New Providence highlighting 490 murders, which they said occurred during the FNM’s term in office.
“The Rt Honourable Member for Centreville, as Leader of the Opposition in August 2011 in a national address declared that crime was the result of bad governance,” he said. “I ask him, what is now the reason for the unacceptable level of crime in The Bahamas today? Or do you now accept that as bad governance?”
Mr. Grant continued to quote Prime Minister Christie, then Opposition leader, who at the opening of the PLP’s Mt Moriah constituency in 2012 told party supporters, “You know and I know that an important reason for the escalation of crime in The Bahamas is poor governance. The FNM has been paralysed, unable to lead on the crucial issue.”
According to the Central Grand Bahama MP, the PLP’s Operation Ceasefire, which they said would deploy more police in crime hot-spots and increase surveillance for those out on bail only turned out to be a joke.
“There has been no ceasefire,” he said. “When on occasion we are having a murder everyday or shootings everyday we have people with ankle bracelets being killed and doing the killing.”
Last week, three men on bail, two of them for murder, were shot and killed within a two-day period.
While on the campaign trail now Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis also blamed the FNM government for what he called their failure to protect the Bahamian people.
However, Mr Grant said the fact that Mr Davis was himself robbed during a home invasion confirms his own statement that “no one is safe in The Bahamas.”
Mr. Grant also criticised what he called the government’s “downplay” of the crime situation and possible adjustments to crime statistics, saying: “The families of the six people who perished in a house fire almost a year ago here in New Providence are awaiting the promised swift justice. It has yet to be determined how those six persons lost their lives. I again ask the question: Why are their deaths remaining unclassified? Is it to suppress the murder count?”
The MP was referring to the six people, including a two year old, whose bodies were burnt beyond recognition in a house fire in Homestead Street.
It was reported that the six were found locked in the bathroom of the small wooden structure. Their deaths have not been classified as murders.
When approached by The Tribune yesterday about the recent spate of crime in the country, the Minister of National Security refused to engage the reporter. “I have no comment on crime” was his only comment.