Good Ol' Georgetown

with Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
August 3, 1999

Green wants reshaping of municipality concept

Mayor Hamilton Green has called for a reconfiguration of the concept of the Mayor and City Council to give "a democratically elected council the ability to carry out its mandate, without the old paternalistic pattern followed from the days of the first mayor, Mr John Croal. He was mayor of Georgetown in 1837.

The call came during the 'chief citizen's' address at the opening of the city constabulary's training complex last week in Georgetown.

Mayor Green said he hopes to have, "extensive discussions with the political parties and his own colleagues on the council to effectuate a system that will be much more viable and responsive to the need of our citizens..."

He envisages the setting up immediately of a special municipal court with lay or legally qualified magistrates who must earn the respect and confidence of all citizens by their rectitude.

The reorganisation of the city constabulary and a new entity with a well equipped and trained staff or a contracted-out private agency, to look after the collection of market fees, as well as a reconfiguration of the City Engineer's Department are also among the wishes of Mayor Green.

Those are laudable goals as set out by Mayor Green, but as he has already admitted with his deputy, councillor Robert Williams saying amen, the council is short of cash and at every statutory meeting of the council there are complaints from the 'chair' as well as from around the horseshoe table about the incompetence of some staff even at the senior level. At one of the meetings last month, Mayor Green spoke about getting someone from the CARICOM Secretariat to improve the quality of management at the municipality at all levels.

The new look of the city police

At the opening ceremony of the new training centre for the city's constables, I observed the large turn out of constables dressed in their imported readymade black uniforms and black patent leather shoes. Let's hope that attention will now be paid to providing them with the necessary and modern firearms to do the job properly.

Over the past month the work performances of at least half a dozen members of the city police have been called into question and investigations mounted internally to punish the guilty ones.

One constable was accused of making derogatory remarks against President Janet Jagan as she was being driven to a ceremony in the city, another may have to face courts after making unproven allegations against her fellow constables, while at least three others including a corporal are under investigation for the removal of several boxes of chicken which had been condemned by the health authorities and were on their way to the dump site to be destroyed.

At the last statutory meeting Good and Green Guyana councillor Anthony Boyce drew the attention of his colleagues to the lack of security at the Bourda Market. He related how one morning stallholders arriving sometime before 7 o'clock discovered one of the gates along Orange Walk opened, but there was no constable on duty. The market had been broken into during the night with heavy losses to the stallholders. The Stabroek market has also had its fair share of break ins, with some stallholders again urging the council to allow them to hire their own security personnel to be stationed in the two markets.

Still on the market beat...the thumbs down has been given to that part of the council's millennium plan for the Stabroek market clock to ring in the new century next January. An expert from the Smithsonian Institute now in the country had been asked to assist in getting sound from the clock. But 'Father Time' has had its toll and both the expert and engineers from the City Engineer's Department have concluded that any attempt to restore the bell within the structure on Water Street could be suicidal. As one engineer told me "that superstructure is like burnt toast bread...any vibration would bring the whole thing tumbling down".

Lost and found

The disappearance of the bronze bust of the Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser from the Non Aligned Monument at Company Path Gardens was raised at the last statutory meeting. The Nasser bust was one of four, the others being Nkrumah of Ghana, Tito of Yugoslavia and Nehru of India erected during the late Forbes Burnham era to honour the trailblazers of the movement. The National Trust had been alerted. And the bust has now been restored with the others.

Points to ponder

Without a doubt, the structure on Laluni Street just three doors going east before New Garden Street, is not a residential building, but a church. The City Engineer's Department is yet to respond to a query in this column several weeks ago, as to how this building plan was approved... and by whom.

...Dr.Shury, food is still being sold on the Regent Street pavement in the vicinity of two supermarkets, every Saturday. Is Mayor Green continuing his contacts with the chief justice and the chancellor over the foot-dragging process in the courts concerning injunctions against the City Council....?

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples