Georgetown is in a mighty mess
Stabroek News
January 20, 2004

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Dear Editor,

On a recent visit home, I witnessed many concerns in a troubled land. First, even though the garbage trucks seem to be doing some work around some parts of the city, Georgetown is in a mighty mess! Blocked drains and kokers; alligators in gutters, snakes in yards; mosquitoes galore; the putrid smell of rotting biomass; the bush-overgrown burial ground, a poor resting place for loved-ones; roads that are no longer passable, either on foot or by four -wheeled vehicles. Is this the garden city? Find another name, and do so fast!

Yet, one good spark of hope is the recycling plant for plastic, aluminum and other containers. The government must provide the necessary incentives to make this project active. Now is also the time to put in a container-return system or use a refundable fee method ($25-$50 per container); this should go a long way to changing the propensity of consumers to litter. This system works for water bottle caps, water bottles and cooking gas containers; it should work for other containers as well. Furthermore, penalties for littering the city should be imposed, especially upon businesses that throw their garbage, including empty containers and spoiled goods, in alleyways. Meanwhile, could someone say what share of the city budget is allocated for cleaning the city, paying salaries and meeting other costs? Is it true that in the past, the Mayor's job did not attract a salary? All these costs should be known by citizens, for they pay the taxes and they must know how these taxes are spent- transparency and accountability.

Second, congratulations to the organizers who made it possible for the contestants of the recent Ms Guyana/ Universe to serve the poor at the Dharm Shala Christmas party.

The beauty in serving the poor is the best crown a Ms. Guyana can win and wear, for each contestant can claim an unchallenged first prize. This kind of event should be made a permanent segment of the Ms Guyana show and also be part of Sharma TV when he is making his regular distributions to the many poor and punishing people in Guyana today.

Third, is it true that both GPL and G.T&T are planting poles side by side or on opposite sides of the same street? Is there no formal agreement between these two monopolies for them to cooperate in the best interest of the public? Durban Street seems to be one place where this madness is taking place. This problem is a job for the Public Utilities Commission, but they may be 'out to lunch', since G.T&T and GPL are, respectively, partially and fully owned by the same owner, the government. I wonder where Guyana Water Incorporated, another government owned businesses, will plant their poles for supplying electricity to their substations for water distribution and sewage disposal? Public utilities cooperate and do not compete with each other, as this is cheaper for all, including consumers, but only in Guyana can we experience such an eye sore and high cost chaos.

Fourth, much of our history is being consumed by fires in Guyana and the losses are unacceptably high. A walk

down Water Street from New Market Street to burnt-out Auto Supplies is a good reminder of what has been lost over the years and how long replacements take. What we need is to professionally investigate a rational, risk assessment approach and finance a programme aimed at reducing the probability of preventable fires. Sadly, the 'blame-game' and 'last-lick' is in play, trapping us in our own self-made prisons. We need to break new ground.

Finally, how do you cope, when public institutions do not work? Dream and hope for a future, move off in different directions? Crime has a best friend in no punishment. Too many road deaths, homicides and suicides- conflict resolution? Nah, final solution, for life must be very cheap in a land where it is always someone else's fault, be they dead or alive, in charge or not. So in silence, many contemplate flight, nurses and teachers, the young and old, they leave with much untold, for the promise of home is now the promise of a distant land.

With everything on the rise (bills for electricity, water, rent and food), except good paying jobs, where could you turn as a silent sufferer? Politicians, priests, pandits and professors, all who should have the tools to point the people in a positive direction are perplexed. Is this the land of potential and endless possibilities? If the answer is yes, then end the pain and suffering, declare a draw now, and start over, Guyana!

Yours faithfully,

Dr. C. Kenrick Hunte