City Hall wants street lights answers from power company

City Council Round Up with Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
March 19, 2001

The Georgetown City Council is seeking the intervention of the government over the approach by the Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL) to street lighting. Deputy Mayor and chairman of the council's finance committee, Robert Williams during a debate at the last statutory meeting of the council, disclosed that City Hall owes GPL more that $60M declaring that "we want a settlement now".

The Deputy Mayor said City Hall wants to engage in a dialogue with the power company, regarding street lighting and the attitude of GPL towards the Council. "Kitty Market is in darkness", he said, noting that "street lights are going out, and will not be replaced." He described that situation as serious.

The government's intervention is being sought specifically to get an explanation of the contract which was signed between the administration and GPL with reference to keeping the street lights on.

The Deputy Mayor has suggested "the putting together" of a high-powered team from the council to meet with GPL in order to save further embarrassment.

The restructuring plan
The two unions representing city council workers are still skeptical over a proposal by city 'fathers' and 'mothers' to restructure the administration which is responsible for the day-to-day operation of Georgetown.

While supporting in principle "an examination of the existing structure of the council" the Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) had told the council they were not party to the decision to recruit a consultancy to carry out the restructuring exercise.

The unions are also questioning what they describe as "unacceptable elements of procedures employed to establish the implementation mechanism to carry out the exercise". Another criticism from the workers' representatives is their exclusion from the drafting of the terms of reference of the body which is to draft the plan, since there are concerns over the implementation aspect.

In an exchange of letters between the Town Clerk's office and the GLGOU and the GLU earlier this month the unions informed City Hall that they had instructed their members not to participate in any activity involving the two consultants who have been engaged at a cost of more than US$12,000.

Copies of the unions' position were sent to the Minister of Local Government, Health and Labour, the general secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Mayor as well as the leaders of the three political groups represented on the council.

At a meeting last week in the City Council chamber, it was agreed to change the word restructuring to 'institutional strengthening' and the unions were assured by the Deputy Mayor that the intention of the council is not to 'make people redundant'.

The unions were reminded at the meeting that the matter was discussed and agreement reached since 1996. They were also told that it was not the council's intention to sideline the workers' representatives.

The GLGOU and the GLU after examining the contract between the consultants and the council will be giving their response within a fortnight.

A structured approach
Mayor Hamilton Green wants the municipal administration to adopt structured approaches to the dismantling of buildings and parking in the city.

When the city 'fathers' and 'mothers' met last Monday the question as to how the council should deal with the construction of unauthorised buildings in the capital, with what took place last month at the New Thriving restaurant on Camp Street and Brickdam, fresh in their minds, was clearly set out.

According to Mayor Hamilton Green "anyone who breaches the building by-laws and fails to put themselves in order after warnings from the city engineer's department will be dealt with condignly."

But the 'chief citizen' is insisting and has given the necessary orders to the City Engineer, that he be informed of such planned actions, 24 hours in advance, and that nothing is done precipitously.

On the parking of vehicles in the city, the Mayor and his council seemed amenable to an offer of help from the private sector. The point was made however, that in the final analysis City Hall must have the final say in any arrangements as they relate to where and who should be given permission to park close to their business places.

The 'chief citizen' was in a generous mood last week, handing out gifts to the great West Indies pace bowler Courtney Walsh and our own West Indies captain Carl Hooper. But I am befuddled over the honorary citizenship plaque which the Mayor so graciously handed over to Mr Walsh. I know about the keys to the city but not citizenship 'rights' being bestowed by a mayor. I shall look forward to being enlightened.

Your attention please, Chief Constable, the Merriman Mall from Cummings to Light streets is still being used as a short cut by cyclists. Shouldn't there be a 24-hour guard? And who gave permission for the sale of cosmetics and toiletries on the newly restructured Mall during Saturdays?