City Hall is out of money City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
September 16, 2002

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City hall has a serious cash flow problem, and that is putting it mildly.

In addition to the empty municipal coffers, city councillors - or at least Mayor Hamilton Green - have signalled their intention to confront the contractors who undertook the rehabilitation of the Stabroek market.

At the last statutory meeting of the council Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, who is chairman of the council’s Finance Committee, declared: “The council does not have any monies... we are indebted to well over $70M... we are in a serious financial position.”

The meeting was also told that there isn’t sufficient money at City Hall to meet its monthly payments and so roads will not be maintained.

The Deputy Mayor spoke about the difficulties faced by the city treasurer’s department to meet its liabilities and the fact that the council could not give a commitment for increases in wages and salaries.

He proposed an early meeting of councillors to look at ways and means to attract more revenue to the municipality.

The Stabroek market row

The Stabroek market issue surfaced when councillors discussed a memo relating to a site visit by officers of the city engineer’s department to report on the rehabilitation works being undertaken by a private contractor.

Questions were raised over the handing over of the sanitary blocks in the market as well as the leaks from the roof when it rains.

City `fathers’ and `mothers’ were presented with differing views from the officers on the quality of the rehabilitation works and whether there had been a partial handing over to the council of the completed works.

Mayor Hamilton Green related the results of a meeting which he recently had with a representative of the contractors whose attitude was described as obtuse by the `chief citizen,’ and he reminded councillors that “we are the users and will be bound to any inadequacies.” A senior officer attached to the City Engineer’s department when asked for an explanation told councillors that up to the day of the statutory meeting the defects identified by his department had not been rectified.

Another puzzle in the Stabroek market jigsaw was whether the Deputy City Engineer, Mrs Johnson, who was absent from the last statutory meeting, did sign the partial handing over document on behalf of City Hall.

Mayor Green, who subsequently became embroiled in an exchange of letters in the media with a representative of the contractors over the rehabilitation works, directed that no member of the council’s staff must sign any document relating to the Stabroek market.

The $152M project is a joint undertaking by the Guyana government and the International Development Bank (IDB).

The City Engineer’s absence

The absence of the City Engineer, Mr Cephas James, from last Monday’s statutory meeting was a cause for concern to some councillors, including Mayor Green and his deputy.

Mr James who was on a controversial trip to Singapore had not been out to work since his return to Guyana on August 30. When asked for an explanation Town Clerk Beulah Williams’ response was that the City Engineer on his return home had been granted five days sick leave from last Monday.

“The way he left and this request for sick leave is an insult to this council... I am unhappy with the way in which this matter was handled,” said the `chief citizen, who with a handful of councillors had expressed strong objections to the Singapore trip.

People’s National Congress/R Councillor Oscar Clarke asked for details on when the City Engineer had left Guyana and when he was expected to be back on the job. “This council is being reduced to a complete charade,” he concluded.

GPL and GT&T

The Deputy Mayor wants the council to set up an inter-agency unit involving certain government agencies and the council which would tackle a number of issues affecting the work and jurisdiction of the municipality.

He said the two entities are making East Ruimveldt a neighbourhood of poles and there is no plan to handle the situation, while at the same time complaining that both GPL and GT&T were planting poles on the council’s reserves.


Help needed: This is a special appeal to Mayor Green from this column to do something positive now about the well-grounded complaints by vendors on the mall between Orange Walk and Cummings street concerning attacks every week by bandits and vagrants during the night time. The council in its wisdom decided not to provide a lighting system for these sellers who pay stall rents whenever the mall is in use.