Georgetown may very well be CARICOM’s most unattractive capital – letter

Georgetown may very well be CARICOM’s most unattractive capital

SEPTEMBER 7, 2012 |  | Letter to the Editor by  Ray Chickrie

The trash and filth-ridden drain around Guyana’s Parliament epitomizes the state of Georgetown and one can safely say the state of Guyana —a nation plagued by corruption at all levels, with a bureaucracy that makes the nation crawl, and a political system that totally centralizes power in a nation that still awaits the implementation of local elections.

I never expected to see such filth around parliament. This should be the centerpiece of the city. Imagine what impression foreigners have of Guyana seeing this and yet we hear much rhetoric about tourism.
Those who talk about Guyana’s tourism potential are in dreamland.  They need to go just across the border, to Paramaribo, and look at that ornate capital where colonial buildings and homes are preserved in a city that is clean and attractive, and is undergoing major rehabilitation of the waterfront and surrounding areas.               

Sadly, in Guyana the waterfront no longer exists, squatters are everywhere, real estate deals are doggy and the seawall is the new party spot where heaps of rubbish are left after the bacchanal. Georgetown may very well be CARICOM’s most unattractive capital.

Guyanese are saying that the country has become the paradise of thieves and squatters and void of law and order.  When there is blatant corruption and those in authority themselves don’t abide by the law, then the people will do as they please, and they are doing just that.
And this has been the case since 1966 and has accelerated in the past decade to an unprecedented level.

Georgetown and its surroundings are developing haphazardly.  Ugly buildings, housing schemes and shopping centers (malls) are popping up everywhere in a city that seems to have no urban development plan, and which has caused major stress on the city.

Take for example, the four-lane highway that is being built from the airport to Georgetown, there isn’t enough land to build the highway. Who gave developers permission to build housing there and why were squatters not removed decades ago?

Further, the highway that Kuwait was supposed to fund can’t be executed since 200 hundred homes have been built there by squatters and the government is complaining that it does not have eight million dollars to relocate them. For the same reason, the Georgetown/Timehri Highway expansion is being stalled due to squatters and developers everywhere. As well, squatters have stalled the modernization and expansion of Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

Where is the urban plan for Georgetown, or is it just a paper tiger?

The city can’t cope with housing developments on both sides of the Demerara River; it has led to a tremendous increase of traffic on the bridge, traffic congestions around the Demerara Harbour Bridge area and the city at large; sewer backup, rubbish, pollution, and increased traffic and congestion in Georgetown’s centre.

The bridge was not built 34 years ago for such stress. And yet, those in authority are allowing developers to build new housing and shopping centres in the city without considering the aesthetic character of Georgetown and the environmental impact. Has the public seen the plan for these new malls? Do they look like garages as some suggest?

Moreover, take a look at Main Street, Georgetown. Most of the colonials’ buildings have been destroyed and slabs of concrete and glass are going up.

This should have been the centerpiece of Georgetown. This is not sustainable development. This is not economic development. Economic development is good, but what sorts of jobs are being offered and how many jobs?

Ray Chickrie

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  • Msfiiyaa  On 09/09/2012 at 9:06 am

    Sadly I agree, my first visit to Guyana was last year- Georgetown is a dump to say the least…the sea wall is full of rats and garbage and the open trenches…well are just mind-boggling to me. Funny, my first trip to the bush- where my family are from was great! Cleaner, less mosquitoes and a lot more pleasant than Georgetown.
    We westerners WANT to spend our money in the Caribbean- and if GT got its act together there is no reason why they could not capitalize on that. I am one of those those who have family who have left Guyana decades ago who have never gone back- now I can see why! I want to go back home- to Guyana but sadly with things as they are feel that this will be a dream and not a reality-there does not seem to be any real support we can offer to help Guyana get back on its feet- if they can’t even sort out the garbage in the capital!!!

  • Ron. Persaud  On 09/09/2012 at 2:22 pm

    How times and things have changed!
    In my school days we learned that Georgetown was the “Garden City”. In the course of my employment, I got many aerial views and can attest to the apt description of the capital.
    The great fires afforded the opportunity to rebuild along updated architecture and materials; and Georgetown was considered to be the modern capital in the Caribbean.
    In 1962 I listened to an expert Horticulturist discuss Botanical Gardens of the world. The slide show was breath-taking! When he focused on “The Botanical Garden” in Georgetown his comment was, “…the best in the world with the possible exception of Singapore…”
    It is very unlikely that I will ever return to Guyana so I will retain these pleasant images and pleasurable memories of long ago and far away.

  • Tom  On 09/10/2012 at 9:03 am

    I left Guyana in the mid 1960s and have never been back. Some of my family have been back for short visits and they tell me it’s disgusting.

    I saw a documentary about the Jaguar and it was all about the Jaguar in Guyana and it portrayed Guyana as one of the last untouched wilderness on the planet and showed how beautiful the bus is. Pity about the city centre!!

    Corruption is rife and has not changed since I left (probably has got worse!!!)

    Damn shame.

  • Sandy  On 03/20/2013 at 6:26 pm

    Never curse the bridge you cross – be thankful that because of Guyana you are in North Amercia enjoying the life you are currently enjoying. I hate when former Guyanese make such noise about how disgusting Guyana has become yet some of these people are doing the dirtiest jobs in North America to make a living, some of their children has lost their culture and have become more white than the whites. Give it a rest. If you don’t want to go back to Guyana don’t but stop trashing it with your garbage.

    • Thinker  On 03/21/2013 at 1:32 am

      Your response ignores completely the issue being discussed. The objective facts are that Georgetown is dirty and smelly and it certainly is Caricom’s most unattractive capital. Nothing to do with the red herrings of culture loss and doing dirty jobs in N. America. No one could imagine that Main Street could get so dirty and trashy. What an impression on the first-time visitor! Wanting the best for Guyana is not trashing it. Accepting such a state of filth is definitely not patriotic.

  • Rhonda Hinds  On 05/23/2013 at 2:55 pm

    I just read your article , Mr Chickrie and it was righ on point. I returned back home after 27 years (which it will always be no matter where I live) and was sadly disappointed by the traffic congestion and garbage throughout Georgetown. It is definetly not the Guyana of my youthI, however I will continue to return every few years dispite my disappointment becasue nothing can compare to the seawall breeze, numerous fruits, and fresh food and fish. I don’t know if Guyana will ever attain a reputation for tourism with all the corruption and don’t care attitude of most of the population but it will always be a place I will return to for a visit whenever i get the chance.

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