Rescuing the sea wall

by Donald Sinclair
Guyana Chronicle
February 15, 2001

IT seems that once again the Georgetown Sea Wall area is in need of rescue. In fact it never ceased to be in need of rescue. There did appear to be, however, a long period in which the Sea Wall area between Camp Street and Vlissengen Road enjoyed some measure of order and received some amount of attention.

For some time now efforts to make the Sea Wall area less of an eyesore and an embarrassment seemed to be bearing fruit. The old, abandoned vehicles that lay strewn on the parapets were removed. High barriers were placed at the Camp Street and Vlissengen Road entrances that effectively denied access to trucks which, in the dead of night, would arrive on the Sea Wall road to unload and deposit ugly builders' waste, long an ugly blemish on the environment. At least for a while a pattern of orderly development seemed to be taking shape on the Sea Wall Road. The grass was kept low, the area was levelled and the devilish trucks were kept at bay.

To everything on earth, it seems, there is a season, and the season of order on the Sea Wall ended abruptly over the last weekend. Persons taking their Sunday stroll on the Sea Wall last weekend would have been greeted by a sight which they probably hoped they would never seen again. Sure enough on a recently cleared section of Sea Wall parapet there stand two large and shameless heaps of rubble, cleared from a recently burnt commercial establishment in Georgetown. Those heaps of rubble were deposited, not with stealth, not in the dead of night, but with total audacity and defiance on a bright Saturday afternoon. Those ghastly trucks are rolling again. The high barriers which restricted their access to the Sea Wall and served as curbs to their excesses have been either carefully removed or disdainfully knocked over. Now the Sea Wall environment is under siege by persons, perhaps well known, who are demonstrating utter contempt for the seaside environment.

Why, we ask, must chaos and ugliness overcome order and beauty in our society? Wherein lies our environmental conscience? Are our orderly designs destined to be overturned by the barbarians at the gate? The Sea Wall fiasco has implications that go well beyond an ugly parapet. It poses a number of personal, collective and institutional challenges. There are implications and challenges for City management, for law enforcement, for civic responsibility, ultimately for governance.

Citizens and visitors who have a preference for a Sea Wall that is unencumbered by rubble and builders' waste will be very anxious to see corrective action taken at the earliest opportunity. Dropping plastic or paper cups on the street or dumping ruined building material should be activities subject to equal vigilance by the relevant authorities. If the Sea Wall area is to continue to be an important component of our social heritage, then the authorities need to exert a tighter embrace upon and apply a closer scrutiny to developments and activities on this segment of Guyana's border. Activities or developments that do not support or enhance the quality of the Sea Wall environment should be disallowed, and appropriate sanctions visited upon those responsible.

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