Government takes over clean-up of City for CWC
-- City Hall mum
December 6, 2006
Officials at City Hall are tight-lipped following the President's announcement that he will have his Government take over the campaign to clean up the City for Cricket World Cup (CWC) next year.
President Bharrat Jagdeo, on Monday, condemned the operations of the City Council, alluding to its inability to properly manage its finances.
Jagdeo posited that the financial situation of the Council cannot be addressed by the Government at this point, since Government will focus its attention on the clean-up of the City, a task which he describes as imperative and a national effort.
As such, the Head of State said, the Government has taken over the initiative to get Guyana ready for CWC.
“This is a City Council effort, but…because it's so important, I now chair the Committee, that involves several Ministries, the City Council and the Private Sector. We are going to spend quite a bit of money on beautifying the City, the East Bank corridor, and part of the East Coast corridor,” the President disclosed.
Jagdeo recalled that it was just a few months ago that his Government had allocated $10M to the Council, after which he was forced to remind them, at Mayor and Town Clerk levels, to conduct simple clean-up tasks around the City, such as the removal of signs.
“…If we were to withdraw from the work that we're doing, and paving roads…then you won't have anything done” the President said.
He observed that the City Council has not paved any road in over 10 years.
“… I'm very worried, because we had set aside $200M, and a lot of the paving work you see in the City is being done from that facility. Then Public Works does paving of City roads outside of the money that we set aside, and we supply a significant amount of taxes to the City Council, but yet still they have problems with their finances?” the President questioned.
Mayor Green, in a recent interview with Kaieteur News, had disclosed that the Council had stepped up its effort to restore the image of the City by appointing a Coordinator to oversee the City enhancement campaign.
According to Mayor Green, retired Solid Waste Director Rufus Lewis was appointed to this charge.
Green said several developmental works were initiated, even with the very limited City budget. As such, the Mayor said, assistance was solicited from City businesses to aid in the effort, an effort which was severely criticised by the President.
Efforts to garner a comment from officials at City Hall were futile, since this newspaper understands that the Mayor has since left these shores, while the Deputy was unreachable. The Deputy Town Clerk said she is unable to pronounce on the matter at this time.
As part of the Government's clean-up efforts, works have already commenced to raise five avenues near Camp Street , while the grading and shaping of all parapets is being done.
On Monday, Jagdeo, along with Minister of Public Works and Hydraulics Robeson Benn, and a team from his Ministry, travelled around various parts of the City where works are being carried out.
Jagdeo also revealed that a tree-planting exercise will be launched shortly, even though it may not be ready for CWC. He noted that it will have a long term effect. “We have to clean up the whole City, derelict buildings, old signs……paving some roads, putting in the traffic lights. That would cost us over US$2M,” Jagdeo announced.
Additionally, he noted that traffic lights are to be installed at fifty traffic junctions across Georgetown and its environs through a joint initiative by Guyana and India, which was one of four agreements signed during the recent visit here of India's Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
The enforcing of laws to prevent littering will become imperative, and other activities by citizens to hinder clean-up efforts will also be looked, according to Jagdeo. “I've been urging the City Council to enforce the laws. I've spoken about this on other occasions. Some people have properties in the City.They want to sell these properties for $500M, yet they would not spend $10,000 to keep them clean. You just drive down Main Street of all streets and you will see what I'm speaking about,” President Jagdeo explained.
He stressed that the Council needs to do much more with regards to derelict buildings, since the by-laws of the City state that persons should demolish old, dilapidated structures rather than leave them to fall apart.
“If the property is cleaner, if the City looks better, the value of these individual properties would go up. It's unbelievable that in this day and age people would keep some of their properties in this state,” Jagdeo noted in disbelief.
He announced, too, that Government will not stand idly by when people indiscriminately occupy Government reserves. Jagdeo said, “Some people feel that it's a right, so they do whatever they want. We've had trouble with quite a few, and the Police have been working with us. We don't want to take away the livelihood from anyone, but people have to do things decently.”
Jagdeo also disclosed plans by the Government to remove old shacks and upgrade markets and other facilities, among them the Plaisance Market. He stressed the importance for vendors to aid in the City's enhancement by constructing removable stalls, so that the area can be cleared when they are not operating.
On Monday, too, the President inspected the ongoing construction works at the Casique Palace Suites and Banquet Hall and the Buddy's Hotel, both situated at Providence , on the East Bank of Demerara.
The President expressed satisfaction at works being done on the buildings, and announced that efforts will be made to contract rooms from the Casique Palace which, in addition to the 250 rooms already contracted from the Buddy's Hotel, will accommodate guests for CWC.