Community help sought in drainage work

City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
December 20, 1999

Councillors representing the Good and Green Guyana (GGG), the People's National Congress (PNC) and the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) may soon be justifying their $15,000 monthly stipends which they receive in the second week in every month by getting involved in community work.

On the initiative of deputy mayor Robert Williams the council has approved $5 million to help community groups to have drainage relief in certain areas and for them to be monitored by the Georgetown city council.

The deputy mayor who is also chairman of the Finance Committee said that because the council is not in a position to offer paid services, collaboration is being sought with groups. The areas identified are Agricola/McDoom, Tucville, Stevedore Scheme, West La Penitence, Laing Avenue, Lodge Housing Scheme, Kingston, Wortmanville, Turkeyen, North East La Penitence, East La Penitence, Festival City, Guyhoc Gardens, Shirley Field Ridley and Lamaha Park.

During the community exercise councillors from different political parties would be working alongside each other... for example mayor Hamilton Green has been paired with PPP/Civic councillor Rudolph Harris who during statutory meetings of the council seldom sees eye to eye with the 'chief citizen.'

No more than $300,000 would be allocated to each project, with the councillors who have been identified to be responsible for the community works to include the clearing of drains and culvert heads. The deputy mayor hopes that coming out of the involvement of councillors in the various projects, permanent groups would be set up to monitor their individual areas.

Duty-free concessions queried

The city council's internal auditor is reported to have expressed concerns over the procedures by city hall in getting duty-free concessions.

The internal auditor was called in to investigate the importation of commodities by city hall on duty-free concession for last year and this year.

The internal auditor, Una Williams has not been able to obtain from the customs department certain important documents relating to the importation of commodities for the council during last year.

She said that a list made available to her during the investigation showed that some of the imported items were not requested for duty- free concession by the Town Clerk who is the officer responsible for giving the green light for such a request.

Among the items identified by the internal auditor are liquid meters, stuffed toys, bicycles, coaches, buses and mini-buses.

There are also discrepancies in the customs assessment notice and the customs entry as they relate to the importation of playing cards, and textile materials. The internal auditor has recommended that a new code number be used which must only be known to the Town Clerk, Beulah Williams or another officer to be identified by her. At the last statutory meeting of the council, questions were raised about the contents of a container which was cleared by city hall sometime ago. Mayor Green told the meeting that many of the items in the container were junk, including old clothing, chairs and desks, books, and old meters and most of them were given away to council employees and homes for the needy.

When the mayor named the unions representing municipal workers as recipients of some of the items in the container, the President of the Guyana Local Government Officers Union, who is the Chief Meat and Food Inspector disclaimed Green's statement. The use of the word 'junk' by the mayor to describe some of the items brought former PNC mayor Ranwell Jordan to his feet. "So we are now importing other people's junk..." said he. The consignment was from the Canadian Foundation for World Development.

Focus on the markets

All is not well with the operations of the city's markets.

Councillors have expressed concerns over the allocation of stalls by the Clerk of Markets, and the repossession of stalls.

A report by the Markets Public Health committee headed by deputy mayor Williams, has recommended that the Clerk of Markets who now allocates stalls in the markets, be requested to send the list of applicants to the committee for ratification. The clerk of markets must also provide necessary documentation for a review of the names by the committee. The rapid increase in the number of jewellery stalls in the Stabroek market has also attracted the attention of the council.

Unfinished business

Now that the Camp Street avenue has been completed by public- spirited citizens, will the council be playing any role in its maintenance and protection from vandals?

Why is it that none of the city fathers and mothers who sit around the horseshoe table has shown any interest in finding a solution to the 'shady uniforms deal' and the recouping of outstanding sums of taxpayers money.

Would the clerk of markets explain the difference between a stallholder and a vendor? And finally let me assure the 'chief citizen' that this column despite his perception, over the years was and is never meant to 'hurt' or 'hinder' the city council.. but to hold a mirror on the workings of city hall....A Merry Christmas to all.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples