Having lost thousands of dollars in crops at the hands of thieves, Williamsville farmers are calling on Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat to revamp the Predial Larceny Squad.
Farmer Ramsumair Hanuman said the squad has not been responding to distress calls nor was it patrolling farming communities.
Saying the Corial Road farmers were especially hard hit by larceny, Hanuman said they were hopeful that Rambharat would investigate and intervene in their plight.
"From October to now we have thieves coming in here stealing cabbages, bodi, hot peppers and plantain. Even the coconut they stealing," Hanuman said.
He noted that even though the farmers have camps on the agricultural fields many of them were reluctant to stay on the land because of crime.
"We want the Predial Larceny Squad to keep up patrols here. We are fed up of losing our crops. I have invested over $80,000 in fertilizer and chemicals. It is unfair for us to continue to lose our crops when we work so hard every day," Hanuman added.
Along the M2 Ring Road, farmer John Katwaroo said they too were losing crops and valuables from agricultural camps.
"The bandits stole the galvanize and some pieces of steel I had in my camp. They regularly come and steal my peppers, and pimentoes," Katwaroo said.
A source at the Predial Larceny Unit admitted that they could not respond to incidents of theft because of insufficient manpower and resources.
With only one vehicle operational, and several others down for repairs, the officer said the Unit was severely understaffed.
"We work on a month to month contracts. We have faced cuts in salaries which are always late and we are overworked. From October 2016 to present officers have been denied sick, vacation and casual leave," the source said.
The officers who work on 24-hour rotations said their salaries are substantially lower than that of their counterparts in other areas of the TTPS.
- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Kristian De Silva.