Stabroek square to be permanently cleared
By Chamanlall Naipaul
February 22, 2007
THE current enhancement of Georgetown and its environs is not purely in preparation for the hosting of the upcoming Rio Summit and Cricket World Cup (CWC), but is intended in the long term to correct decades-long neglect which has resulted in a serious deterioration of the environment.
This was stressed yesterday at a press conference hosted by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon; Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Kellawan Lall; and Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Mr. Robeson Benn, all of whom are integrally involved in the implementation of the ongoing enhancement programme.
Lall recalled that when he and his colleague Benn assumed their respective ministerial portfolios, President Bharrat Jagdeo had expressed his deep concerns about the state of the environment in the various municipalities and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and mandated them both to move towards correcting this deteriorating state of affairs.
Dealing specifically with the removal of vendors from the Stabroek Market, Lall emphatically declared that despite the court action by some vendors who were removed from the area, the site will remain permanently cleared because it is one of Guyana’s best historical sites and the intention is to make it into one of the major tourist sites.
However, the minister assured that arrangements are in train to provide appropriate alternative sites for the some 100 vendors who occupy the site.
In addition, he said those who will be allowed to remain temporarily will only be permitted to vend during the day and they must have presentable stalls which confirm to certain specifications and must be easily removable.
In this regard, he said the City Council is expected to meet vendors today in search of an amicable solution to the relocation of vendors.
Lall stressed that he has instructed all municipalities and NDCs to fully enforce the Municipal and District Councils and Local Government Acts as part of the move to stem the chaos which exists in many areas.
Benn, on the other hand, emphasised the need for clearing the Stabroek Market area to facilitate ongoing infrastructural works on the tarmac, drains and adjoining roads in the immediate vicinity.
He emphasised that the area is currently a construction site and if persons encroach it will disrupt ongoing work and very importantly compromise their safety because of the machinery in use there, as well as the use of asphalt, which is at high temperatures ranging from 150 to 240 degrees Celsius.
The minister indicated that works will be undertaken along Cornhill Street and upper Water Street and as such there can be no encroachment.
With respect to the installation of traffic lights, Benn said the conduits have been laid at 22 intersections and work should be completed within a month.
He also said work has begun on the installation of lighting along the Railway Embankment road to enhance the safety of traffic in and out of the city.
Work on the five avenues in the heart of the city, as well as avenues and bridges along Le Repentir Cemetery have been completed, the minister observed.
Clearing of road verges on the East Coast, East Bank and West Bank Demerara and other enhancement works are continuing, Benn said.
Luncheon reiterated that the objectives of the enhancement programme are laudable and not only seek to improve the physical environment but intend to remove a mindset which has led to a despicable situation.
Therefore, the long term intention is to dismantle a situation that is “no longer tenable,” he stressed.
However, he observed that partisan forces, because of unbridled opportunism, are unfortunately trying to create a negative impression of what is happening, but noted “we have to stand up and be counted” in this collaborative effort among the government, the City Council, the private sector and patriotic citizens which is in accordance with the interests of all Guyanese.