Professional managers for the city

By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
October 18, 1999

Without any preamble this week we asked the man/woman-in-the-street whether they would prefer a professional management team to run the city instead of a Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and to state the reason for their choice. Their views follow:

Calvin Lewis - self-employed: `If managed by a professional management team things should be better in the city because this body will be paid to do a job. Citizens and visitors to the country must not be subjected to the garbage and stench of the city. Years gone by I remember the municipality had a fleet of trucks which were regular in garbage collection. As a kid I used to ride behind 'Hang on Sukie'. I never saw a garbage pile on the street in those days. Then the men used to clean the gutters and we used to even run through the gutters which were bone dry without water on a sunny day. I recall floating paper boats in the gutters and having boat races when the rain fell. We used to walk through alleyways because they were clean as the pavements. Now everything is out of hand. If the managers are contracted for a period to do a job they will do it. If they do not then they lose the contract and someone else takes over. Something radical has to be done to bring Georgetown back to normality.'

Basant Singh - self-employed: `I would prefer a professional management team because the Mayor and City Council are not doing anything in the interest of the citizens. Since I know myself the M&CC have only been talking and bickering and not getting anywhere. The mayor and councillors are not committed to the job because they have other overriding interests. I think that if the municipality pays managers a salary to do the job, they will do it.'

Yemesi Williams - student: `The Mayor and councillors are put there to do a job but it is clear that they are not able to do it. I would prefer a group of professional managers to look after the affairs of the city than being at the mercy of the city council as we have over the past two weeks with garbage. Because the professional managers would not be elected but will be appointed I would suggest that a commission be established to look over its operations and functioning. After all they must be answerable to someone. Depending on how they do the job their term could be extended before returning to electing a mayor and city council. I think we are accepting anything and we cannot stand up for our own rights against a council that is not doing its job.'

Hugh Griffith - technician: `We do need the city to be managed professionally but we do have a problem in that municipal elections are held as a democratic means of ensuring that all citizens are involved in the decision-making process of matters that affect the city. Appointing professional managers might be the solution to the present problem but what criteria will be used for selection. I prefer the people with the know how than persons put to sit there because of party affiliations and nothing or very little is done. The M&CC has been failing in its duty for a number of reasons and one is because of a lack of finances. The council has been depending on rates and taxes for all the years and has failed to initiate other creative means of generating income.'

Farida De Souza - housewife: `Generally, the current Mayor and City Council is not capable of managing the affairs of the city and because of this government and the people should seriously look at replacing them. They cannot even keep the city clean. This council and councils prior to this one can be said to have not performed to the best of their ability. The council at present lacks cooperation because of how it is constituted. Because it lacks cooperation it cannot move forward. Representatives of parties on the council are too sensitive and instead of walking out they should try to sit down and hammer out issues in the interest of the citizens.' Government should probably hire a professional management team whose main task will be to fix the city. I have no confidence in the city council at this point in time. The council should not have allowed garbage to take over. If they had money to collect they should have used all means at their disposal to obtain the outstanding sums without putting the health of citizens at risk.'

Patrick Phyll - surveyor: `I don't believe in selection, I believe in election but based on what is taking place in the entire country today, I think that we need to appoint and pay professional people, who are prepared to serve in positions which will bring this country back on a sound footing. Over the past number of years, elected representatives of the people have not been doing their jobs as they are supposed to. They are not prepared to work and the very serious problem is that they have not learnt the art of disagreeing to agree. As far as I am concern they are only interested in themselves and not the general welfare of the city. Elected representatives have to rise above party politics and this is what they have not been doing. At present I think that the Mayor and councillors should resign and a professional management team be put in place which will set the pace and ground work for managing the affairs of the city.'

R.D. Singh - minister of religion: `Considering the present situation which the present mayor and city council has us in, I think it is a wise idea for them to step down and for government to get a team or a group of people to sort out the present situation as regards the city's finances, health and sanitation. This body must be appointed by government in consultation with opposition parliamentary parties. If we do not do that we will not come out of the complacent mood which has taken over and we will continue to have garbage all over the city, clogged drains and all the ensuing problems. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Because of this I believe that there should be new management for the affairs of the city until government feels that it can run off municipal elections.'

Samuel Lewis - private sector employee: `The city is too dirty and after more than three years there it is obvious that the current Mayor and City Council cannot run the affairs of the city. If somebody else other than the council could manage the affairs of the city then let them do so. Put whatever mechanisms are needed to be put in place to make them function legally and let them run the city.'

Roger Singh - student: `As a young person I am not satisfied with the conditions in the city. It would be lovely to have a clean city with no garbage around. I don't think that the present City Council has the imagination to carry out a massive clean up campaign and sustain it. Probably some other body will be able to do it. I think a professional management team will perform better than the city council even if it is given a temporary life such as for a two-year or a three-year period. Even so after the end of the period their term should be reviewed to determine if their services are still needed. This team should be handpicked and not elected. The elected people are not representing our cause.'

W. Rayman - self-employed: `I am totally frustrated with the functioning of the present Mayor and City Council. The councillors are more concerned with scoring points for the parties they represent than with the interests of citizens. They need to be replaced and a group of professional managers be placed there to bring this city back to what it used to be. Some of the councillors have no knowledge of how to talk to people. Many do not know what their functions are apart from attending meetings and throwing punches in the air. I think the present council should be disbanded. Until such time that people running for office in municipal elections are exposed to courses on what their functions are then they could run for office.'

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples