Should there be high buildings in Georgetown?
Stabroek News
January 11, 2002

Dear Editor,

I refer to a letter by the Mayor of Georgetown about the ugly new concrete buildings in Georgetown.There are many reasons why no large buildings should be constructed on the coast. The most obvious is that there is no foundation. From the Atlantic ocean to about twenty miles inland the soil is all siltation which continues to build up the size of the nation. The Pegasus hotel has a foundation of some 200 greenheart pilings! Taking a look atGeorgetown I have seen many concrete three-plus storeyed buildings erected.Especially since the canals were closed you can expect slow sinking and, with every new building to go up adding more weight to the soft silt, the eventual immersion of Georgetown. Old building codes do not allow for clustered areas. When we had efficient fire services the widest part of a building (the roof) had to be at least 8ft from boundaries. This allowed for at least 16ft of space and a better hope for less damage in case of a fire.Now for the circulation of the north Atlantic trades: If we let greedy people build monstrosities up, up and away, in any area of the country it would rob residents of the natural cooling effect of the brisk winds blowing off the mighty Atlantic Ocean. If the powers that be still don't get the idea of why older public and civil servants did not encourage the politicians to wreck our society it was because these "people" servants were highly trained in their particular fields. Think deep: the coastal plain is a floating mudlot attached to solid land somewhere near Atkinson Airport.Guyana is off the beaten path of "natural disasters"! The location, north-central of the South American continent, with a sharp curve down from Venezuela, sets the country out of the way of hurricanes which start off the coast of Africa and head to the Caribbean Sea. Earthquakes, mudslides and other disaster patterns "spare" the Guianas from destruction. A tremor here and there is merely a signal that we should count ourselves lucky. Do we want to create a man-made catastrophe to sink the free land added on for centuries?Here is a bit of reality for the political pundits who hold forte: only 2,000 square miles of Guyana is occupied! Any of you know what 83,000 square miles look like? This is a new century and those of us still around and capable of elucidating the projects of forty years ago, will share this knowledge with those who really want to build a comfortable society where we are all Guyanese. If you were born in British Guiana we know you had a very good education and community involvement. Those born after Independence met pure incompetence and many other political problems which led to the wipe out of the world's best united society.To all Guyanese, wherever you may be: shake hands, praise the older people who did us a great service by teaching us to be honest, caring and satisfied and return to your religious beliefs. Starting 2002, let us build the nation that will lead the world in 2050. We can't do much with the small population left in the country but by removing the high tax burden, opening three new townships in the near interior and allowing returnees to bring in development equipment duty-free for two years the country will take a sweeping turn. But we have to fire the PPP/PNC government and return to constituency representation.

Yours faithfully,

George Jackson

Editor's note: As regards the question of high buildings in Georgetown we are advised as follows;1) The sub soil conditions may not be a restriction to the development of an area. It has become quite common to reclaim land for building purposes. A recent example is the building of one of the largest new international airports in Hong Kong.In Georgetown it is more likely that the heavy buildings will sink into the silt than the silt itself sinking into the sea. Notwithstanding the above there is the need for long term planning to develop further inland to accommodate the growth of the capital city.2) It is agreed that there is much building going on in Georgetown without due regard for adequate foundations and space between buildings. With the change from timber to concrete buildings there is less observance of the safety of adequate spaces between buildings Also the design of foundations is not being carefully considered.3) There are guidelines in the various old Town Planning Schemes for Georgetown which provided for the good spacing of buildings, but these are all being ignored. For instance the standard whereby the building should not occupy more than two-thirds of the site area. Also the limitation of the floor area of the building not exceeding 1-l/2 to 2 times the site area.These help to ensure adequate space between buildings and control the density of building on a given plot.4) We need a long-term vision of the development of our city and an appreciation of public open space of playgrounds, parks, avenues. We may then grasp the opportunity of landscaping nicely the spaces between neighbouring buildings in our City centre.Yes, the sight of broken down fences and overgrown grass can be a thing of the past.5) Enough use is not being made of the skilled architects and other building professionals locally. Too many of our buildings are lacking in aesthetic value and technical inputs. The architectural styles of our more recent buildings are alien to our climatic conditions and reflective of a different culture. 6) There must be more control over the quality of our built environment. The solutions lie with all of us not just the national or local Government.