Constabulary not at top preparedness - Mayor City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
September 9, 2002

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The significance and relevance of two statements by Mayor Hamilton Green at the last statutory meeting of the council seemed to have had little or no effect on those who were in the sights of the 'chief citizen' when he fired his verbal salvos.

First the mayor accused the constabulary of not operating at its optimum strength of preparedness adding "I have identified certain weaknesses and ballistic flaws in their equipment..."

The council at the time was dealing with the purchase of weapons for the city police. This is a matter which is still engaging the attention of councillors which centres on who and where the purchases should be made.

The mayor had offered to place his expertise in weaponry at the disposal of the council. The second salvo was directed to city 'fathers' and 'mothers' when Mayor Green declared that anarchy was taking place around the horseshoe-shaped table at City Hall... "enough is enough; we talk and talk but do not deal with the issues... (a councillor Rocky Mann refrain) hence the establishment, treats councillors like jokers..."

He went on... "there is a lack of intellectual capacity and depth of understanding of our background to deal with our problems..." there was no immediate reaction from those present.

A white elephant

What's the real story about the Stelling View market and the announcement that it is to be closed down. Like the Merriman Mall from Alexander to Orange Walk, great things were expected from Stelling View. The name was selected after a competition.

The then First Lady Mrs Joyce Hoyte some 12 years ago had cut the ribbon to declare the market opened with Mayor Compton Young officiating, at a cost of about $14M from the then government.

It did not take long for the complaints from the occupants of this facility to begin pouring into City Hall. Vendors and shoppers alike said the place was too cramped; sanitary facilities were non-existent with security posing a major problem.

The siting of the market from the main business centre in downtown Georgetown was a recurring irritant to vendors who said it was 'behind God's back'. According to one of the new occupants who was obviously dissatisfied... the only redeeming feature was the market's proximity to the Fire Service and in the event of a fire there, water would always be available to the fire-fighters, from the Demerara River.

At the statutory meeting of the council Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Harold Kissoon while admitting that from the outset Stelling View was not properly constructed, reminded councillors about their obligations to those few stallholders who still occupy stalls, in some form or the other.

People's National Congress/R councillor Desmond Moses said the market in its present state raises concerns about the environment. His party colleague councillor Ranwell Jordan suggested a cautious approach because people still owned stalls at the market and any sudden closure could have legal implications.

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams who opted for immediate closure said "the place is a haven for bandits and is not a place where people buy and sell..."

Stelling View, which preceded Merriman Mall, was also billed as a showpiece for making the small entrepreneur a real businessman or woman... this goal is still to be achieved at both sites. The question to be asked now is, will the mall suffer the same fate?

The Mayor's Medal

The 'chief citizen' was in his element at the recent city hall sponsored function for Guyana's Commonwealth Games women's 400 metres gold medallist Aliann Pompey, where she was presented with the mayor's medal.

Mayor Green took full advantage of the photo opportunities which were tailor-made at the presentation ceremony in the Promenade gardens; undoubtedly he knows how to play to the gallery applying his own imitable style.

He was given a four column front page photograph in the Stabroek News on August 20, 2002 when he presented the medal to the Guyanese born champion, reminding all those who were present and saw the television pictures that the mayor's medal is 'real' gold.

The presentation of such a medal has been popularized by Mayor Green ... this is his third. A well-informed source with knowledge about municipal goings-on explained that as 'chief citizen' the GGG leader is given this prerogative to identify anyone whom he thinks deserves such an accolade. The norm is for foreigners to be presented with a key to the city of Georgetown.

Kudos must go to the staff for their attempts to return the gardens to its former glory within a very short space of time. Why can't this exercise be ongoing? What seemed strange was the large contingent of members of the city police at the function including the chief constable keeping guard at 'strategic' points. It's a pity that such an approach cannot be taken on the pavements of the city, and the mall on Saturdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays where small scale fruit, vegetable and greens vendors are left to the mercy of bandits and vagrants who carry out forays on the unprotected sellers and shoppers.