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Three killed in Guyana protest

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Three killed in Guyana protest

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 18  – At least three people were reported killed as police officers clashed with residents of the mining town of Linden yesterday protesting an increase in electricity rates.
Chairman of Region 10, Sharma Solomon said unconfirmed reports put the death toll as high as four and that many others have been injured as police fired live rounds and rubber pellets to disperse the crowd.
However neither the police nor hospital officials have confirmed any deaths, but late yesterday, the Linden Electricity Company Incorporated (LECI) plant was set ablaze.
Media reports said the police fired upon the crowd after teargas failed to remove them from the Wismar-Mackenzie Bridge which they occupied for the entire day.
The protestors used old vehicles and tyres to block the bridge to protest the minority government’s decision to introduce higher electricity rates that the residents say that could not afford.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds has appealed to the residents to provide an “earnest, realistic proposals” as an alternative to the increased tariffs introduced from July 1.
“I’m ready for formal proposals. The majority of people want to get on with their lives because we have people who want to stir up fear,” he said.
Most of Linden was shut down on Wednesday as businesses closed and public transportation came to a virtual standstill.
The residents have indicated they will stage a five-day shutdown to protest the electricity hikes that followed a decision by the Donald Ramotar administration to cut the estimated three billion dollar (One Guyana Dollar =US$0.004 cents) subsidy to the Linden Electricity Company Incorporated (LECI) by at least one billion dollars.
In addition, the bauxite pensioners no longer enjoy 300 KWh free electricity but will be provided 50 KWh free and have been told they would have to pay for the remainder at existing market rates for other civilians. (CMC)