Mentally ill on streets unsettle councillor City Council Roundup
by Cecil Griffith
Stabroek News
May 10, 2004

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What is to be done about persons of unsound minds and the homeless whose population in the city is increasing by the day?

At the last statutory meeting of the city council this issue was raised by Good and Green Guyana (GGG) councillor Patricia Chase-Green who heads the Social Development Committee. She made a personal appeal to the Chief Constable Gail George and the Medical Officer of Health Dr Vibert Shury to remove two women and their children who make regular appearances on the southern pavement on Regent Street just a few feet from the headquarters of the city constabulary. They are beggars.

The GGG councillor was already unhappy with the inaction by members of the city police in dealing with persons who offer for sale rat poison in the vicinity of city hall not forgetting those who occupy parts of the pavement catering for weight watchers.

"Are these infringements of the by-laws becoming the norm?" she asked. The insanitary conditions in the Regent and Robb streets shopping area did not escape her wrath, as she referred to the clogged and dirty drains…(just take a look at what is taking place outside the constabulary building on Regent Street and in the vicinity of Robb and Bourda streets). Councillor Chase-Green was moved to ask the Town Clerk (TC) Beulah Williams to tell the council what are the working hours of the two officers and whether they leave their offices and move around the city …to see for themselves.

The new trend in land occupation in the capital where at least two persons - a man and a woman - have taken up separate plots on North Road and South Road did not escape the GGG councillor's attention. But responses from the TC and the Chief Constable showed clearly that there is no easy solution.

Both the TC and the head of the city police called on the Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, who presided to tell them what they should do…The problem is what to do with those persons after they have been removed from the streets, pavements and reserves. The deputy mayor's solution was to resuscitate the committee which had been set up sometime ago to handle such a situation.

The facts

The two spin doctors working out of the mayor's complex were quick to respond to a letter in this newspaper last week which had referred to Mayor Hamilton Green's recent trips to South Korea and the United States; as well as the loans and allowances made to council's staff. The $130M figure was reduced to just over $2M.

The council's Public Relations Officer Royston King's response in both Stabroek News and the Chronicle covered the rental at a giveaway price of Independence Park to the Mexican circus, the constabulary uniforms some of which are still to be supplied from the US after some three years, and the Kissoon fiasco. Ask most of the city 'fathers' and 'mothers' what was the outcome of these transactions, they would be hard put to give an enlightened reply.

From what transpired at the last statutory meeting with the Deputy Mayor, councillor Robert Williams in the chair, the PRO may soon be called upon to explain to citizens why most of the newly acquired street lamps are not in working order…and why someone from the administration with the technical know-how was not sent to the US to finalise the arrangements for the purchasing, selecting and shipping of the lamps. As for the explanation about the giveaway price of Independence Park …(just $5,000) per day and Guyana currency to boot, one can only conclude that it was not a business transaction but possibly an arrangement which could end up with someone from the council eventually joining the Suarez circus, working as a clown.

The arguments put forward by the mayor's political assistant Mr Leander attempting to explain away the frequent visits overseas by the 'chief citizen' reminded me of my days as a boy growing up in Berbice.

Whenever I misbehaved or had done something wrong in the eyes of my mother and was ever ready with an appropriate excuse when summoned, her opening remarks were … "Boy you have a plaster for every sore…"


Yet another get-together at a city hotel described as a workshop on municipal governance has come and gone with the usual platitudes from the usual quarters with financial and other support from international agencies and NGOs.

While all this is taking place the Guyana capital is still in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) awaiting large injections of blood money to keep it alive. Let's stop talking the talk and begin walking the walk or the city will go under and I'm not only speaking about the flood waters.