The merry and mad season Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News
November 12, 2006

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The merry and mad season is about to begin. No, I am not referring to Christmas; I am instead thinking about the hectic preparations that are about to begin for Cricket World Cup 2007.

It would be useless if after all the effort that will be made to make Guyana ready for the World Cup, we do not leave in place a sustainable programme to ensure that our environs are properly maintained and that improvements in our hospitality are sustained.

I recall when Guyana last hosted the Caricom Summit in Guyana , a great deal of work and resources went into sprucing up the City.

I mentioned then that we needed to ensure that the effort was sustained and that we did not slip back once again into the state of neglect that has characterised the city for the past 30 years.

We did slip back. In fact we have been unable to sustain the City in a presentable manner and this is directly related to the lack of adequate and sustainable maintenance.

Each year the City Council spends millions of dollars to clean drains and alleyways, only to have these clogged up a few months after. The reason: no sustainable maintenance programme.

I had hoped that when the government had launched its Community Enhancement Project, one in which in many areas workers are paid on a weekly basis to keep their surroundings clean, that this could have been combined with the more major works for the cleaning of public waterways and would have led to sustainable standards in maintaining the environs.

That project has failed to make any meaningful impact within the country and I would seriously urge a major rethink now that the government has again announced a major clean up campaign.

Funds should be found for contracts to clean all the major drains and alley-ways of the City, and when this is completed the Community Enhancement Project should assign to each ward a sufficient number of workers to ensure that the drains are kept clean of debris.

The workers at present cannot be expected to handle the Herculean task of removing solid wastes from drains and alleyways.

Now that a massive clean up campaign is underway, I hope we get it right this time and that sufficient personnel are assigned to each and every ward of the City to ensure that it is maintained beyond Cricket World Cup 2007.

A great burden is expected to be borne by the Ministry of Public Works and I anticipate a great deal of controversy over the actions of this Ministry.

This past week advertisements have appeared in the newspapers warning residents along the East Bank and East Coast Public Roads to remove derelict vehicles, sand, loam earth, wood and debris from the road reserves.

The notice goes on to controversially demand the removal of signboards and all erections including stalls and tents from the said reserves.

I fail to understand the rationale for the removal of the signboards.

The man in charge of CWC in Guyana had earlier indicated that only new signboards were to be removed and therefore one has to ask why signboards are be removed from the road reserves.

Many of these signboards, such as those identifying the names of the various villages along the East Bank and East Coast, would have been extremely helpful to tourists.

So I fail to see why these are to be pulled down. Word in fact is that some of these billboards are to be pulled down. I am waiting to see who is going to pull down that billboard at Golden Grove with Uncle Bob's photograph.

I would have thought that these signboards and billboards could have been a valuable revenue source of the Ministry of Public Works in maintaining the highly costly East Bank and East Coast Public Roads and therefore instead of pulling them down, the entire system should be rationalised whereby rentals would be charged for having these billboards up. The Ministry is, I predict, going to find itself in a great deal of controversy over this issue.

What will however be pleasing, especially to residents of Georgetown, especially those with an aesthetic appreciation for the way things were in the past, is an invitation for tender for reconstruction of avenue walkways in Carmichael, Waterloo, Thomas and East Streets.

These walkways were part of the traditional attraction of the city and it is good to note that someone had the imagination to once again restore these avenues to what they were in the past.

I compliment the Ministry for this initiative. They should accept the compliments graciously; it may be the only ones they receive in the next few months.