Expert urges city plan expedited
Warns that delay could see Georgetown in dire straits
Railway embankment highway labelled waste of money

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
September 2, 2000

If the implementation of a development plan system is not expedited, Georgetown would soon look like the Stabroek Market area--out of control and filthy--Chartered Town Planner, Professor Akthar Khan, said yesterday.

Professor Khan, a consultant working along with the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) to formulate the Greater Georgetown Development Plan (GGDP), also proposed relocating some of the services of the police and the army outside the city.

Among other proposals for the future Georgetown were the modernisation and the implementation of new legislation within the Town and Country Planning Act; formulation of an overall development policy; immediate ceasing of the ribbon development along the main roads; rounding off of villages within the GGDP boundary; construction of cul-de-sacs in residential areas to segregate pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

Khan contended that now was the time to plan for residential settlements away from the city and to look for self-contained townships away from the coastal areas or extend the existing towns in a properly planned manner. Underground sewerage systems would have to be developed for all housing schemes since the septic tank culture was "still a mystery." He advised that the Ministry of Health bring stricter control to this area.

The transportation system would have to be improved for the future Georgetown. Noting that Georgetown suffered from serious congestion, he recommended re-routing of vehicles including the mini-bus service. Khan proposed the establishment of three mini- bus terminals. He suggested that a special city centre bus route be introduced which would connect the mini-bus terminals.

Khan opined that the establishment of the mini-bus terminals outside the city would encourage vendors to find new locations, since vendors liked to be where the people were. Petrol stations and other facilities should be located at least 12 miles and at most 25 miles from a primary road.

For cyclists and pedestrians there should be proper, separate, attractive and safer routes. Restricting the delivery of goods to after working hours should be considered in view of the fact that Port Georgetown handled large amounts of export rice and sugar. According to him, a detailed study would be carried out to recommend a parking plan for the city.

Khan described the East Coast railway embankment highway as a "waste" of taxpayers' money and opined that it should not be built further. According to him, there was no great distance between this road and the existing East Coast Demerara road. He said he had never seen a one-way main road in any developed country. Khan said he learnt that a resolution had been passed to convert the road into a two-way one. He said it seemed to him that the road had been built in a hurry because the "finishing touches" had not been completed. No proper junction had been built to connect Sheriff Street, he said. Also, nothing had been done to stop people from creating new accesses.

He proposed instead the investigation of a new route further south. This road, according to him, should be two-lanes each way and a further lane for a hard shoulder, to serve as a by-pass for the east bank, west bank and west coast traffic.

Traffic capacity in the city could be increased with the establishment of roundabouts at critical junctions. A study should be conducted to determine which crossroads should be closed. Out-of-town shopping development was also to be considered.

Landscaping of the city is important and Khan proposed that sufficient space must be allowed to accommodate planting appropriate to the scale of any development. Trees in conservation areas would be protected.

Three areas in the city had been designated "conservation areas." This means that they come under special protection and permission would need to be obtained before anything could be done in these areas, which include Main Street and the area around the St George's Cathedral. There is also a plan to develop the sea wall area. No high-rise buildings should be permitted in the city, according to the proposal.

The Georgetown prison should be relocated as well as some of the services of the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force, Khan said. According to him, the latter two were taking up some prime areas of the city which could be put to more beneficial use.

Khan, who presented two papers for discussion at the CHPA symposium yesterday on the GGDP, said this was a modern way of preparing such plans and controlling future development of town and country areas.

The objectives of the GGDP are to ensure rational and consistent decisions; achieve greater certainty; secure public involvement in shaping local planning policies; facilitate quicker planning decisions and to reduce ill conceived planning applications and appeals. The objectives of the symposium, which was poorly attended, were to provide a forum for the interaction of professionals from various disciplines and other stakeholders to discuss issues and problems pertaining to the planning for the city.

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