A city plan

Stabroek News
August 17, 2000

It was encouraging to read that a consultant town planner, Mr Azam Khan, is engaged in developing a comprehensive plan for redesigning Georgetown. He has been meeting agencies like the Guyana Police Force to discuss the plan and has given them a copy of a draft plan for the re-zoning of Georgetown which is engaging the attention of government.

The capital city has been in a state of virtual anarchy for longer than we care to remember. Shops, beer parlours and even discos have been allowed to open in residential areas, disrupting the lives of all who live nearby. The old Costello plan was never given statutory effect and legislation like the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act and the Music and Dancing Licenses Act has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. Moreover, no heed has been taken of the one time charm and beauty of the city. Canals were filled in, avenues have deteriorated, trees have not been tended, and Georgetown is now a shadow of its former self. The taking over of pavements by vendors has been the nail in the coffin.

A well drawn city plan will, one imagines, not only provide for zoning into residential, commercial and industrial areas but will provide for the maintenance of green areas and areas of beauty in the city. Already, some of the malls have been desecrated by the construction of unsightly concrete boxes and few of them have been maintained at or developed to a level that encourages people to use them. One imagines that Mr Khan will consult the architects who have recently shown an interest in revitalising their association and will certainly be interested in giving him the benefit of their ideas. People like Mr John Warrington should also be consulted on any ideas he may have for the public gardens.

The plan must be backed up by much tighter legislation than now exists and this legislation must be enforced. This may entail the strengthening and further training of the city constabulary, the police, and the city engineer's department and the department of town and country planning whose approvals should be required for all new developments.

The rot set in long ago and a lot has to be done to restore some degree of normality and get the city looking attractive again. The preparation of a plan is an important beginning and one must hope consultation will proceed rapidly and something will emerge soon for public scrutiny and comment.

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