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Police at the scene in Ottley Hall on Saturday, June 29, 2024, where van driver Ekron Edwards was shot as kill even as the nation was being urged to prepare for the impending passage of Hurrican Beryl, which is expected to impact the country later today, Monday July 1, 2024.
Police at the scene in Ottley Hall on Saturday, June 29, 2024, where van driver Ekron Edwards was shot as kill even as the nation was being urged to prepare for the impending passage of Hurrican Beryl, which is expected to impact the country later today, Monday July 1, 2024.
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and St. Clair Leacock, opposition spokesperson on national security, have each noted on Sunday the security consideration as Hurricane Beryl barrels toward St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

They both addressed the issue in separate statements on radio on Sunday.

Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security, said that he had been in contact with the relevant state officials not only in the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) but also the state administration, police and security forces.

“Anytime you have a disaster there are some people who want to use it as an opportunity to behave bad and behave selfish and even to behave criminal. Please let us not go that way,” the prime minister said.

“In all my 23 years as prime minister, I never imposed a state of emergency, never imposed a curfew either in any storms before, COVID, volcanic eruptions because I want Vincentians to be responsible. All of us we have to work with one another,” Gonsalves said.

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“This is a small country. Sometimes we’ll have to take certain measures. But the best measures are for us to work with one another and to work in solidarity with one another and get over this hurricane.”

The prime minister was speaking one day after the country recorded a brazen daylight shooting in Ottley Hall that left van driver Ekron Edwards, 33, dead, even as officials were urging people to prepare for the storm.

Police said that Edwards was operating a minibus in Ottley Hall when a masked assailant approached the minivan and opened fire, killing Edwards at the scene.

The killing was the seventh homicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 13 days and took the count this year to 25, following a record number of 55 last year and 42 in 2022.

Speaking in a national address on Sunday, Leacock said the hurricane was coming at a time when SVG has “peculiar challenges, namely that of law and order and crime and violence.

“We can’t be like the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand,” the Central Kingstown MP said. 

“And, the fact that a hurricane can have destruction to property, in particular business property alongside personal property, means that there is always the opportunity for those who will take advantage of situations.”

Leacock, who is also a vice-president of the main opposition New Democratic Party and a member of the party’s national disaster management team urged people to secure their homes, whether they live in villages or in the city centre.

“Business owners, take extra precaution, those of you who have to have your shutters down, those of you who have not yet gone into the business, to place garbage bags, as the banks do, over the computer and other equipment to secure them from water damage, do that,” he said.

“Do not see this hurricane as an opportunity to do what people will do long time days — it’s a good time to go outside and have a good rain bath. Not this time.”

He urged people to stay indoors, adding that the NDP, including its president, Opposition Leader Godwin Friday, and West Kingstown MP, Daniel Cummings, who also spoke on the programme, “know what matters must be attended to and attended to critically.

“We are been doing all of that in our own consultations, meetings and round-robin discussions,” Leacock said.

“We want to provide the assurance whether you are in the city constituencies or the rural constituencies or in the Grenadine constituencies, your party, the New Democratic Party, has your best interest at heart.

“It’s not a time to play politics. It’s a time to be grown up, to be big men and to put the national interest first. Be a Vincentian; be a responsible Vincentian. Heed the notices, heed the warnings. And if you need help, reach out to your parliamentary representatives. There’s one just around the corner,” Leacock said.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Gonsalves declared under the National Emergency Management Act that a natural disaster associated with Hurricane Beryl is likely to occur in the country.

The declaration, which covers the whole country, will continue for several days.

Gonsalves further declared it is necessary for NEMO for any person authorised under the act to exercise disaster management powers under the act to prevent or minimise loss of human life, illness or injury to humans, property, loss or damage to the environment.