Work on tighter security at City Hall far from finished
City Engineer hauled over the coals
Stabroek News
June 26, 2002

Related Links: Articles on Georgetown
Letters Menu Archival Menu

More than half of the work to boost security at City Hall following an armed robbery nearby is still to be done.

The City Engineer of the Mayor & City Council (M&CC), Cephas James, at the statutory meeting on Monday came in for severe criticism from Mayor Hamilton Green and to a lesser extent from his deputy, Robert Williams, for failing to implement most of the new measures.

An attempt by Town Clerk, Beulah Williams, to defend James was brushed aside by the mayor who remarked that it seemed as if decisions taken at any level could be overturned by James.

On June 1, the City Constabulary department came under gunfire when heavily armed bandits stormed the premises of Commerce House Cambio on Regent Street, which is opposite City Hall, escaping with a large sum of money and killing an employee in the process.

This was the second such attack on the cambio, the first occurring on July 14, 1999 and once again gunfire rained on the City Constabulary.

Mayor Green on Monday recalled the 1999 incident when a bullet had entered his office and it was then decided that additional security measures would be installed in the offices of the mayor and the town clerk as well as the City Constabulary building.

Up to Monday, the new measures were only installed in the mayor's office and the town clerk reported that plans are afoot to complete the work in the other buildings.

The deputy mayor in an impassioned statement pointed out that the bullet holes that had riddled the City Constabulary building on that fateful day have not been repaired as yet and the furniture and other equipment get wet whenever it rains.

He questioned the town clerk as to when work will be done on the building and in her office as well since it is a matter of security.

The mayor said that it had been decided that certain basic things would be done which would have taken just about half a day to do.

"It appears as though when decisions are taken they can be changed by a certain bureaucrat," the mayor charged, referring to the city engineer who has since proceeded on annual leave.

According to the mayor, while he was in Cuba attending a conference he had called his office to find out whether the works had begun and was informed that James had different views about the alterations.

He said that while he believes that the town clerk is trying her best she must "square" with council so that they would be able to assist her.

The town clerk said that the city engineer had no problem with the works specified to be done but he had indicated to her that he was mindful about preserving the aesthetics of the building.

She said that the engineer had told her he had to get the necessary technology so as not to interfere with the aesthetics of the building. Further, she said, she was advised that the material to complete the remaining work had been acquired and it would be done soon.

"The explanation given by the town clerk is unacceptable. Are we going to wait until we are attacked directly?" Good & Green Guyana councillor, Patricia Chase-Green questioned.

"As I said, we have commenced," the town clerk restated disclosing that she would present a report at the next statutory meeting.

People's National Congress REFORM councillor, Ranwell Jordan noted with concern that work on the City Constabulary building, which is the protective arm of City Hall and which was fired upon on two separate occasions, would be done subsequently. Jordan, a former Georgetown mayor, is of the opinion that it should have been the first building to be done.

Mayor Green told the meeting that the aesthetics of the building is a non-issue since the walls in the building are blank.

The mayor said that the mere fact that the engineer brought in the issue of aesthetics is an "insult to his (the mayor's) intelligence."

He pointed out that when the engineer, who according to him has no credentials to deal with any issue of the aesthetics of a building, can convince the town clerk that there is an issue of aesthetics in installing the security measures then "somebody is making a monkey of us." "This issue is the straw that will break the camel's back," the mayor concluded. (Samantha Alleyne)