Graham-Royal, who became principal of the institution in 2014, said fixing the pool will be her next ‘big’ project and said she does not intend to begin the project until she is sure she has all the money to complete it as she does not want to start and not be able to finish. “(I need) at least three quarters of it because it wouldn’t make sense; it means work would have stopped,” she told The Gleaner. Students of the school, who train to be teachers of physical education, must now use a tiny pool in Old Harbour for swimming lessons. “So I have to pay more than $10,000 monthly for them to learn to swim. You’re not a complete PE teacher until you’re able to swim,” Graham-Royal, herself a graduate of the G.C. Foster College, who later studied abroad, said. “When I went to the University of Mainz in Germany to study, I could not graduate until I learned to swim,” she added. Meanwhile, Graham-Royal also noted that the institution as also losing money as there were some interested parties who would have used the facility had it been operational. “Just this morning some students from a university in Canada called. They had a contingent of 50 and wanted to come for the summer,” she said. “So we are missing all of that. We really do need some private sector injection. We can’t do it otherwise,” she concluded. GETTING THE MONEY The state of the swimming pool at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport has been a sore point for decades. Current principal of the institution, Dr Joyce Graham-Royal, said it will cost $91 million to repair the facility, which has never been used since it was built in 1980. In late 2014, Minister of Sport Natalie Neita-Headley had announced that Government would be donating the funds to repair the pool via the Sports Development Foundation. However, Graham-Royal told The Gleaner yesterday that she had since learned that the funds, which had been earmarked for the pool work, had been spent on refurbishing the synthetic track at the institution, which was reopened last October. The track cost $171 million to repair. Graham-Royal said because of the clay soil at the Spanish Town-based sporting college, repairing the track had cost much more than the projected figure. Successive principals over the last few years have threshed around with the idea and as recently as 2008, the estimate to repair the Olympic-sized swimming and diving pools was at $50 million.
Preying on bank customers…sting operation to tackle increased robberies – RamjattanA decision has been made to set up a sting operation to deal with the recent spate of robberies committed on persons who have been targeted after conducting financial transactions at commercial banks.This announcement was made by Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who suggested that a sting operation could help to curb the issue before it becomes uncontrollable, and would help to address the situation from a collectiveCrime Chief Paul Williamsstandpoint.The minister did not reject popular opinion suggesting suspicion of involvement of bank employees and relatives of persons who have been robbed in the past.He described the situation as worrying, and said he wants the problem to be addressed soon.He revealed that certain banks have started conducting their own internal investigations into the phenomenon to determine the truth, and explained that most commercial banks have reported that their tellers would not be able to retain their phones while on duty. Other internal mechanisms are being looked into, he also said.Staff, CCTV monitoringThe roll Crime Chief Paul Williams has to play requires that he address the numerous incidents of persons being robbed shortly after conducting transactions at various commercial banks.“I’m appealing to the banks for them to carry out some amount of analysis within their daily operations. There are so many things the banks can do from an analysis that (would) really help us to see if there is any inside dealing or inside information,” Williams told the Department of Public Information (DPI) on Monday.The Crime Chief has said that while Policemen in plain clothes have been stationed outside of some commercial banks and traffic ranks are ensuring that unauthorized drivers are not taking up space at these banks, a collective approach involving other stakeholders is still required in order to get to the core of the issue.“The bank needs to carry out a review of the CCTV within the bank itself. See how many persons frequent the bank; whether they are doing transactions, or sitting idly. Follow this daily; see how many persons are being robbed. Check to see if they would’ve dealt with a specific teller, you know. There is so much analysis that can be done in order for us to deal with this situation,” he told DPI.Just last week, the Guyana Association of Bankers (GAB) expressed similar concerns over these escalating incidents of persons being targeted after conducting transactions with commercial banks.The GBA, in a statement to the media, said, “We strongly condemn these incidents, and wish to assure our customers and the public at large that, as an industry, we are working with the relevant authorities and internally with all member banks with a view to arresting this trend.”The GBA told the media that the safety of customers and staff remains paramount among its priorities. It has also pledged to continue co-operation with law enforcement entities to address any factors that compromise this position.“In the interest of safety, we take this opportunity to encourage customers and members of the public to, as far as possible, refrain from conducting large cash transactions, and instead utilize other secure methods of payment, such as Manager’s Cheques or direct payments.”The GBA said local security escort services should also be considered for persons operating businesses which may require transportation of significant sums of cash.After a bank transaction two weeks ago, a 30-year-old businessman and his 35-year-old salesman were ambushed by three men –two of whom were armed — and relieved of over $2 million in cash and other valuables while they were in the vicinity of Drysdale Street, Charlestown, Georgetown.Besides this incident, there have been multiple other cases in which customers of various banking institutions were traced to their homes or business places and robbed by bandits at gunpoint.Just last year, a bandit was killed and another was captured unhurt during an exchange of gunfire at an attempted robbery at Republic Bank (Guyana), Water Street, Georgetown.The bandit was shot in his chest, and succumbed to his injuries. One of the suspects was shot in both legs. He was a bank employee who is said to have been the mastermind behind the bank robbery.