City Hall's survival depends on change factor

Kaieteur News
January 1, 2007

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City Hall is heading towards a path of inevitable destruction if drastic measures are not taken to adequately address major problematic issues it is currently facing.

This assertion was made by a senior official of the City Council who posits that the City's improper management is the root cause of its approaching demise.

The Council's problems have deteriorated to a state where the lines of communication among officials in various departments are non-existent or on the verge, the official speculates.

This, according to the official, has not only led to the prevention of plans to restructure City Hall but has led to the entity being cash-strapped since its revenue base is so meagre.

The city's problems now range from an inability to pay electricity bills, causing several of its locations to be disconnected, to suffering tremendous setbacks in preparation for Cricket World Cup (CWC). This has since led to President Bharrat Jagdeo's announcement that the Government will take over the city's CWC preparation.

Its cash-strapped status has also led to the City Council's failure to pay its workers salaries in a timely fashion as well as promised bonuses which according to the workers' union were expected since December 20.

The workers mobilised, by their Union , staged a multiple-day strike action outside the gates of City Hall in retaliation.

The matter was taken to the Ministry of Labour and a decision was reached that workers would receive their salaries on the designated deadline. However, the payment of the bonuses was not carried out causing the Union to threaten further strike action.

An intended intervention by President Jagdeo where the government advanced more that $30 million of rates and taxes to the Council was nullified, since according to City Mayor Hamilton Green, the President cannot dictate how the city disperses it finances.

As such the workers were not paid their bonuses, thus the strike threat.

And despite the evident problems at City Hall, Green has repeatedly stated his commitment to forge ahead with the CWC preparations, disregarding the city's inability to do so, despite an impending repeat of potentially crippling strike action.

According to the city official, continuance of strike action could lead to a complete Governmental takeover to create stability.

The official said that the council is in dire need of restructuring where capabilities and the quota of staff should be examined thoroughly.

Without immediate corrective action to revamp the operation of the Council the city will remain “the garbage city” even in 2007, the official posits.

The official even opines that the Solid Waste Department will also continue to suffer since the Director has no say in what happens in that Department.

City Hall has been unable to effect plans to have the Mandela Avenue dumpsite closed with a new location being established at Hague Bash, East Bank Demerara. This initiative was expected to have been completed before CWC and was designated a near $18 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to aid the project.

However, according to the city official, certain officials of the Council refused to cooperate with the IDB thus resulting in the assistance plans falling through.

As such the “No more Mandelas” sign placed at the dump site no longer has merit since its purpose has been defeated, states the official.

There has since been no clear indication when and if the plans for the relocation of the dump site will actually materialise this year.

Several residents, who were eagerly anticipating the removal of the dump and the creation of the recreational park in its stead, have since expressed their disappointment since reading of the halt in this newspaper.

The official notes that City Hall will not be able to flourish or see any significant plans to fruition because of its current state of affairs.

Divine intervention or at least an outsider's input is imperative if City Hall is to undergo a positive change the official concludes, the official said.