Clean-up campaign by City Hall is a welcome move Viewpoint
by William Cox
Guyana Chronicle
October 11, 2001

PERMIT me a few observations on the clean-up exercise being conducted in various parts of the city by the Mayor and City Council. This is long overdue since for years residents have had to endure the stench of clogged up drains, the stinging wounds inflicted by swarming mosquitoes, the overgrowth of bushes, and generally a city too nasty for living. Therefore, the present campaign by the City Council to clean the drains and alleyways in certain areas is welcome.

My first concern about the exercise is the lack of information to residents. Many residents are simply not being given details as to when work in their area will commence. This is very important since with so many crazed elements walking around the streets, citizens ought to know that a gang of workers will be conducting work in respective areas. Informing citizens on the work to be conducted will also encourage residents to take an active interest in ensuring that the job is done properly.

Recently, there was a big furor in one area where cleaning was taking place. Some of the residents were insisting that a certain section of the area had to be cleaned, despite being told by the workers that their instructions were otherwise. Quite a scene developed over this issue. These little quarrels can be avoided if the public is provided details of the nature of the work to be done.

My second concern is about the sustainability of the present exercise. I am very concerned not so much about the cleaning of the drains and alleyways as I am about how the level of service will be maintained. I recall the old days in Georgetown when the City Council had a gang of cleaners who would walk with wheelbarrow and broom, cleaning out the drains and alleyways at least twice a month. The present clean-up exercise is welcome, but can it be sustained? I think it can.

Some time ago, former City Councillor Bunny Fernandes had calculated how many persons and man-hours it would take to clean a block in the city. From these he calculated the labour force required to sustain the service. In the old days, the system worked and perhaps the Council should examine whether it should not revert to the labour-intensive system of employing gangs of workers to keep the city clean. We are too much into contracts these days with the result that we cannot sustain adequate maintenance.

I am aware though that “This time na lang time” and that circumstances have changed. The city has expanded, it is more populated and citizens are more irresponsible. However, taxes have increased and the Council is obligated to provide a better service. In the old days, Council used to weed the parapets in front of homes; today citizens have to do this. Therefore, while there is more garbage, there are some things, which the Council used to do in the past, which they do not have to do now.

All I ask for is that Council clean the drains and alleyways properly and regularly. It used to be done in the past and there is no reason why it cannot be done now.