Moruga/Tableland MP Dr Lovell Francis is calling on contractors who are being extorted by a gang in his constituency to stand up and report those threats to the police.
Speaking on CNC3's The Morning Brew, Francis described gang members as parasites "retarding the progress of the community they are from."
On Monday, Francis took to Facebook to speak about a gang in Moruga that was extorting money from contractors hired to repair the Moruga Road. Francis said Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith are aware of the situation.
He said the main challenge with stopping the extortion is that the victims have not gone to the police because they fear for their lives.
"Policing is not arbitrary. You have to have hard evidence and someone willing to come forward," the MP, who is also Minister in the Ministry of Education said.
"And at the time right now, where violence has become a significant part of our landscape, it is very difficult to ask someone who is trying to make an honest living to put their lives at risk by standing forward, making a report, or giving evidence. Tere is that difficulty."
Francis said contractors are threatened that their equipment will be destroyed and are legitimately afraid for their lives. However, he is urging them to stand up and speak out because once they start paying a "coward tax", it will never end.
"Every time you come to work, this kind of thing will happen and at the end of it we end up creating the kind of society that we cannot live in so it has to stop somewhere. I understand there is fear and you think there is a risk but we need as a society to put a stop to this because it will eventually overwhelm all of us," he said.