Benches reminder Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
February 7, 2002

THE presentation Tuesday of more than a dozen benches to be installed along the Georgetown Seawall for the comfort of those who visit the area, was a reminder of the plan unveiled several years ago to upgrade the seawall into a major business, entertainment and tourist venue.

Officials at the presentation recalled that in 1999 Cabinet had designated the Central Housing and Planning Authority as the lead agency to deal with the seawall development and last year the Tourism Ministry, in its budget, allocated some funds to help replace and repair some of the benches and provide lighting for the area.

Some work has been done but the ambitious overall plan has not yet taken off.

Reporters were told that the Housing and Water Ministry will be responsible for forming a committee to be represented by members of the Ministry of Tourism, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Lands Commission, the Central Housing and Planning Authority and the municipality to look at approaches towards promoting the development of the seawall.

Housing and Water Minister, Mr. Shaik Baksh conceded that it "is long overdue and we have to move in an accelerated way."

That's a fundamental problem with some grandiose plans in this country - they are conceived and given fanfare and then not much more is heard for quite a while.

The Georgetown Seawall is an integral part of the history of the capital of this country and apart from its critical role of protecting the city from the ever pounding waves of the Atlantic Ocean, it is a favourite promenade for thousands, especially on Sundays and on holidays.

We admit that there is a multitude of projects vying for priority status in a situation of scarce resources but the seawall project is so pregnant with short and long-term potential that the private sector could be brought more fully into the picture to help get things moving.

It is already a major attraction for people out to relax and enterprising entrepreneurs can readily capitalise on the opportunities once the plan gets moving.

The seawall project so full of promise envisages a leisure/recreational zone from Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel to Industry, East Coast Demerara, and will cover landscaping, musical entertainment, a children's park and mobile vending units, among other facilities.

Also planned is an ocean resort and entertainment zone and two areas have been identified for that, Mr. Baksh noted.

There are thriving examples in Miami and Atlanta in the United States of the kind of development proposed for the Georgetown Seawall and it should not be that difficult to at least get the groundwork going.

As Mr. Baksh noted at the presentation of the benches Tuesday, there were full consultations with all the stakeholders - two years ago.

While the benches and the lights recently provided are a welcome addition to the amenities for those who frequent the seawall, the bigger plan has to be given a bigger push.

It is time for all involved to move the plan forward and they should not wait until the next presentation of benches to begin to ponder it all once again.