City Hall will soon embark on massive drainage exercise

Stabroek News
June 30, 2001

Dear Editor,

The Mayor and City Council is in the process of finalizing arrangements to begin a massive drainage exercise in some of the most vulnerable areas of the city of Georgetown. These are Agricola, McDoom, Lodge and Lodge Housing Scheme, East La Penitence, North East La Penitence, Stevedore Housing Scheme. North Cummingsburg and South Cummingsburg.

Most citizens would know that the Municipal Budget for 2001 placed strong emphasis on drainage of the city. This special need becomes obvious when we take into account the apparent shifting patterns of rainfall, the aggressive aquatic growth in these water?ways and the unfriendly environmental attitude of some of our citizens, who dump their refuse into our canals, which inhibits the free flow of waste water through these channels. On any day in any area of the city, one can see litter in our drains. In fact, a significant percentage of fast food wrappings and packaging materials ?boxes, bags, cups, ends up in our waterways. Perhaps, fast food businesses should find a way to assist the Council with this nuisance.

Perhaps, too, it may be a good thing if they put motivational messages, such as ? "Do not litter. Let us glitter" or "Do not throw this material on the ground use a bin" on some conspicuous part of boxes and other wrappings used to display and sell their products. In addition, they may wish to think of installing additional litter bins at strategic locations. These would have to be certified by the Public Health Department.

Citizens must know that the City of Georgetown is approximately 4 feet below the normal high tide, and about 6 feet below spring tide. This coupled with the fact that drainage of the city depends on a network of street and alleyway drains, which flow into canals and are discharged in the Demerara River via 13 sluices and in the Atlantic Ocean via 4 drainage pumps, make us seriously vulnerable to the noticeably negative attitude of quite a few of our citizens towards these facilities. We have argued that the poor condition of certain of our facilities, including our drainage system, goes beyond the material; it has to do with the attitude of our citizens, which is informed by their perception of the environment. Those who indiscriminately dump their refuse in our drains and alleyways, are ipso facto responsible for the embarrassing state of our waterways. Clearly, unless those, who indulge in negative practices, adjust their attitude to one that is socially acceptable and environmentally friendly, our efforts would not yield the desired results and the money we expend will be wasted.

In this regard, we must depend heavily upon the media to help us, by promoting those, who are making an effort to do the right thing and prodding others to develop a similar attitude. We should hasten to say that they have been extremely cooperative and supportive of our collective effort to restore Georgetown. However, sometimes it does appear that the ills which beset our city are given more prominence while inadequate attention is paid to developmental projects and other interests of the capital.

Over the years, we have witnessed the proliferation of foreign television programmes, which expose citizens to various cultures in other societies. Many citizens admire the high standards and praise those responsible for city affairs in developed cities and even in some developing cities. However, this kind of development is informed by discipline and a high regard for rules and regulations. This has not been the case in Georgetown.

In so?called "Third World" countries the media must be manifestly concerned with promoting right values for development and progress. This is understandable since they have the ability to influence public opinion and set the national agenda. There is enough power in the pen and camera to initiate change in the various sectors of our society, especially when these instruments are used skilfully. ?

The sum of 32 million dollars has been allocated for Tender Contracts for those areas listed while an additional amount of 10.5 million dollars will be utilized in the form of special projects initiated by the City Engineer's Department for Durban street. Louisa Row. Hadfield street and Princes street.

It is important to note that contractors are obligated to recruit 50 percent of their work force from the respective communities assigned. This is necessary to ensure that residents take pride in the way the works are executed and have a sense of commitment to protecting the facilities.

As per Council decision, these works will be preceded by a strong and vigorous public awareness exercise, which would help citizens to understand their role in yet another effort to improve conditions. Citizens should listen to their radio and television channels and check their newspapers to see the schedule of community meetings with His Worship and Councillors.

The Mayor and City Council wish to reassure citizens that it is committed to the task of restoring and developing Georgetown. However, the good success of all of our efforts depends heavily upon the cooperation and support of our citizens.

Remember, we are all in this together. Let us join hands and work it out.

Yours faithfully
Royston King
Public Relations Officer
City Hall