Georgetown turns ghost town

Stabroek News
March 21, 2001

The doors of most of the city's commercial shopping centres remained shut throughout yesterday. And as now characteristic of any election period in Guyana, the silence was punctuated by the sounds of nails and hammers against galvanised sheets.

Most of Regent Street's identity was lost or hidden behind the heavy metal shields and/or large pieces of plywood covering every available show window.

Stabroek News found only four stores open; one of which was going to be closed at 1400 hrs. Another, The Discount Store, which had not opened at all on Monday, had carpenters busy at work on the roof.

Speaking to this newspaper, the manager of the shoe establishment said that she would rather lose sales than endanger the lives of her employees. She said she had no plans to shut shop early but should the need arise, she was prepared. Although, the woman had not estimated her losses she said the dearth of business activity was bound to affect the store's profit.

Gobind's Cambio and Sheer Elegance Fashions decided to call it quits at 1400 hrs after complaining that business "was slow". The owner, H. Gobind, was reluctant to blame it on the tense air surrounding post elections.

"Business was slow even before but we decided to close early today [yesterday] because nobody ain't coming in", he said. He explained, though, that none of his decisions was prompted by any expectation of trouble.

The situation was no different in Water Street where vending was still at a minimum. A look from the western side of the Vendor's Arcade showed a clear view of the eastern pavement with a few goods hanging there forlornly.

There also continued to be a scarcity of transportation at all the major bus parks in the city.

Teachers and students also enjoyed an unofficial holiday. A quick scan of the Georgetown schools showed that there was low attendance by both groups. Some felt that this precautionary measure was to keep the children off the streets should any trouble arise.

Another empty place was the Georgetown Magistrate's Court, which was devoid of prisoners, spectators and magistrates. Perhaps, the only common and welcoming sounds found around Georgetown over the last two days were those of cricket.