Preparing for an invasion
November 20, 2006
The region is about to become one vast country with the advent of Cricket World Cup 2007. This is to eradicate the necessity of having to clear Customs and immigration at every port of entry in the region where the cricket matches are to be played.
Of course, to make this a reality the various countries had to pass the necessary legislation. The legislation is more than allowing for the easy entry into the various countries; it also involves penalties for breaches of any aspect of the regulations governing the Cricket World Cup.
But this act of one border has far-reaching implications for the CARICOM Single Market which came into effect at the start of this year.
Last week, Barbados deputy Prime Minister Mia Mottley who was in Guyana for a transportation forum, said that despite the relaxation of the travel restrictions people should walk with their passports.
But this is only one aspect of the entire episode. With the relaxation of the travel restrictions will come a greater influx of people who will automatically encounter our driving habits. We often disregard every travel law. We honour speed limits in the breach and we throw caution to the winds when we reach open spaces.
We are going to encounter people who would prefer to do their own driving. At present, most of those who have indicated an interest in coming for the Cricket World Cup are Guyanese who left these shores a long time ago and who are simply coming home for any reason at all.
They are going to rent cars where necessary and being somewhat familiar with Guyanese driving habits, would not find the situation too daunting. But there are going to be those foreigners, some coming from countries where they drive on the opposite side of the road.
We can only hope that the police traffic department would be up and about, perhaps with adequate mobile patrols to avert any disaster.
Then there are the stray cattle. For years we have never been able to keep strays off the roads and this is because we never seek to prosecute the owners of these animals when something happens. Sometimes we never find the owner of the cattle that roam the streets.
With Cricket World Cup a few short months away it becomes necessary for us to do everything to curb this nuisance. The animal pounds are now few because we never set out to use them after we became lax when it came to administering certain laws. Things had reached the stage where some animals died because the various police stations were never equipped with funds to support the pounds.
People raised their voices in protest and the police simply ignored the stray animals. The visitors are coming and we now expect to see a resuscitation of the pounds and a vigorous campaign to keep cattle off the streets.
Fortunately for people in the city, traffic lights are about to make a reappearance. This city must be the only one in the world without traffic lights and this continued for quite a long time.
Those visitors are coming from places where order prevails, where traffic lights work. Last week we signed a contract with an Indian firm to spend the US$2.1 million made available to this country by the Government of India. The end result should be traffic lights at 50 junctions.
But having the traffic lights is one thing; maintaining them is another. We have many vandals in our midst and since these lights are going to be erected with solar panels we can expect people to steal them.
This is where the collective vigilance of a people becomes necessary. It is up to each Guyanese to ensure that the lights remain in working order.
City Hall and the government have begun the clean-up campaign by removing unwanted signs, illegal structures and even those structures mounted by the itinerant vendors.
It would be up to the police to man the streets to protect many from the chain snatchers and other petty thieves, just as they are doing in anticipation of an influx of people for the Christmas holidays.