City in deal with GWI over canals
City Council Round-Up
By Cecil Griffith
May 31, 2004
The city council has accepted an offer from the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), to pay 50 per cent in a final arrangement with the council for the desilting of 33 canals in the city.
The water company is also prepared to take care of the damaged sewage lines in the Princes Street Canal.
These understandings were arrived at during a meeting on May 20, 2004 between a delegation from the council headed by Town Clerk (TC) Beulah Williams and GWI.
At a recent statutory meeting of the council, councillor Edwin Bispat of the Good and Green Guyana (GGG) accused the company of dumping sewage in the city's canals and called on Mayor Hamilton Green to seek a meeting with GWI to sort out the matter.
Also discussed was "the indiscriminate cutting of the roadways to facilitate the laying of pipelines with GWI being accused of improper restoration of the roadways when work is completed.
The GGG councillor had demanded that the water company pay the full cost for any repairs work carried out by the council. It was decided by councillors with the urging of Mayor Hamilton Green that 'half a loaf is better than none at all…'
It was unfortunate that councillor Bispat who had asked to be on the delegation which met with the water company had been left out. The Town Clerk said it was an oversight.
Not so fast
Two former members of the late L.F.S. Burnham's cabinet when the People's National Congress was in government and who are now city councillors locked horns over a move by Mayor Green excusing himself from last Monday's statutory meeting.
The mayor, a former PNC Prime Minister who presided at the meeting informed councillors that he had another engagement away from city hall and would not be present when the city 'fathers' and 'mothers' debate the 2004 budget which was on the agenda.
But the leader of the People's National Congress Reform (PNCR) group on the council Oscar Clarke who held a number of cabinet posts including Home Affairs under the late President Burnham was quickly on his feet and with microphone in hand told the 'chief citizen' "it is your duty to be present at this juncture of the debate..."
He wondered what could be so important and pressing that the mayor's presence is needed while referring to the long delay in the presentation of the 2004 budget.
The mayor, parrying the rebuke from his former cabinet colleague, informed the meeting that where he was going President Bharrat Jagdeo would be there... "I am a strong believer in protocol… it would be inappropriate for me not to be present having been invited..." It was the President's walkabout in Lodge. Mayor Green, displaying that wry look which comes naturally on such occasions, assured the meeting that he has complete confidence in his deputy, another former PNC ministerial colleague, chairman of the Finance Committee, councillor Robert Williams, promising to be back as soon as possible. When the meeting ended close to six o'clock the deputy mayor was still in the 'chair'
The Town Clerk's bodyguard
The promotion of a member of the police who performs the duties of bodyguard and driver to the Town Clerk ignited a heated debate among councillors with a strong defence from the person who enjoys these facilities.
It all started when GGG councillor Patricia Chase-Green questioned the promotion of the bodyguard-driver from sergeant to inspector, when she asked… "Shouldn't someone be tested before such promotions take place…?
She referred to the many times when visiting city hall this particular member of the city police could be seen sitting under a tree in the compound doing nothing.
Another Patricia, the PNCR's Woolford voiced her concern… This driver-bodyguard is underutilised…"
The TC struck back… "It is time councillors stop casting aspersions at people… how the bodyguard-driver's time is utilised is the prerogative of the Town Clerk and not councillors and she continued her counter-attack… "How do we deal with expressions from citizens that it is the councillors who are underutilised..."
The deputy mayor who took over the 'chief citizen' had some difficulty in restoring order around the horseshoe-shaped table as councillors expressed resentment at the TC's remarks.
"All of us have got to understanding the difference between board members and employees… there is a procedure for employees to adopt.
The promotion list of the constabulary came in for strong questioning from councillors.
At long last the 2004 budget is a reality without an increase in taxes. How the municipality is going to carry out its work, providing the customary services to citizens and property owners with a crimp on increased revenue would need divine guidance… if not a Houdini.
It is highly unlikely that Mayor Green will get a computer on his office desk before the end of the year. When he again raised the matter last Monday before leaving to walk about with the President, he was told by the Town Clerk, that she also needs such a piece of equipment among other things… but there is no money available for such things