Georgetown cleanup – Adding insult to injury

Adding insult to injury

Stabroek staff– December 13, 2012 – Editorial |  Comments

It is bad enough that for more than two decades, residents of and visitors to Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, have had their senses assaulted by the sight and smell of garbage. Piles and piles of it, thrown just about anywhere and left sometimes for weeks at a time.

Worse, residents have had their yards, and often, their homes flooded after the slightest drizzle of rain, causing damage to costly furniture and appliances, because drains, canals and alleyways are clogged with thick mud, riotously growing vegetation, which almost seems as if it has been fed with Miracle Gro and again, garbage – plastic bags, bottles and cups and cardboard and styrofoam boxes.    

Worse still, cockroaches, mice, rats as hugs as cats and countless other vermin live in and around these ad hoc dumpsites, exposing the entire city to disease. It is the children who suffer the most. A visit to any paediatrician’s office or hospital on any given day will reveal scores of children with unusual fevers, diarrhoea and coughs, brought on by airborne viruses. City Paediatrician Dr Rohan Jabour complains endlessly about the state of the city and its effect on children’s health – to no avail.

While some city residents are not completely blameless, the ultimate responsibility lies with those who govern the affairs of the city and by extension the country as well. It must be noted here, that the scenario described above does not only exist in the capital, but in other towns and in rural areas also. This column, however, just deals with Georgetown today and there’s a reason for this.

Last week, the central government embarked on what it called a ‘massive’ clean-up exercise, involving over 400 workers. The Government Information Agency (GINA) duly trotted out a press release, complete with a photograph of the workers relaxing after a morning of ‘hard work’. However, a look around Georgetown revealed that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt and of course, a waste of resources. There was as much as or perhaps even more garbage than before and obviously, the workers would have had to be paid.

To add insult to injury and not to have its nose put out of joint by the government, this week, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) started its own ‘massive’ clean-up campaign, which it said would last ten days. Despite giving it a fixed period, the M&CC said it hoped this current campaign would be “more sustainable” than its previous efforts.

How can a ten-day campaign be sustainable? What happens after the ten days? If city residents were not so apathetic with regard to the dump they have to live in, this surely would have raised their ire. In any case, neither the central government nor the M&CC have any business conducting any clean-up campaign. The former must provide the mandate and the means; the latter must keep the city clean every single day – not just for Christmas, tourism conferences and World Cup cricket. Hasn’t the government learned anything from its so-called rehabilitation of Le Repentir earlier this year?

Garbage disposal and collection are major issues, which City Hall just cannot seem to get a handle on. There are ongoing problems with garbage contractors, a dearth of properly functioning trucks belonging to the city and a new dumpsite that does not operate as it should, which we have all heard of ad nauseam. There are also business owners who compound the issue by having odd-job men—many of whom are drug addicts—clean their premises and dispose of their garbage daily. This they do by taking the rubbish to the nearest corner or empty lot and dumping it there. Everyone is aware of this, City Hall, the business owners and even the government, yet it continues. Other drug addicts, mentally ill persons and stray animals, which the city has a surfeit of, routinely rummage in garbage bins and at the corner dumpsites, spreading the problem further.

What is sad is that there is nothing written here that is new. Everyone knows what the problem is: the President, the Prime Minister, the Mayor, the Leader of the Opposition, the Cabinet, the MPs; they all know. Many of these individuals live in the city. They drive past the filth two or more times a day—for instance, there is a ‘dumpsite a few yards from the home of a top government official—but they all routinely ignore it. This speaks volumes about all of us but more so about the people we have elected to govern our affairs.

Georgetown is dying, virtually drowning in a stinking mess, while the country’s elected officials trumpet ‘development’ and point to the haphazard construction of buildings and roads. Absolute garbage!

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Comments

  • chandra  On December 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I totally agree with every point the writer makes. However, the burden rests squarely on the city council and residents of the city. Shame to them all.

  • Deen  On December 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    A country that can’t manage and maintain garbage disposal, sanitation and drainage is an unhealthy country. And an unhealthy country is never a progressive country. Sadly, Guyana is such a country. In the “old days,” we were taught that cleanliness is next to godliness. Back in the 40s and 50s, when the British ruled Guiana, we were taught about cleanliness in primary school. We were assigned to keep our school, furniture (desk and bench) and school yard letter-free and clean. And as part of our personal hygiene, our teachers would regularly inspect our nails to make sure they were cut. I doubt whether schools and teachers in Guyana are doing the same today. To have a healthy and progressive society involves participative effort among government, companies, schools and parents. Proper education and programs must be instituted to teach people that if they do not keep the environment and themselves clean and healthy, they will continue to have a diseased and sick society where there will never be progress. A healthy society is a progressive society. Georgetown used to be the Garden City in the Caribbean, now it’s an eyesore. And as the writer indicated, sanitation and drainage is a country wide problem. Sad! Sad!! Sad!!!

  • wycs  On December 14, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    To have Georgetown brought back to its beauty, the City council has to be closed and allow a committe of 9 buisness officials to take over the running of the City. All employees should be sent to other Govt jobs immediately. Mr Green should be fired. He is hopeless and do not know what he is doing. The Govt have baled out the City Council time and again and the Administration always take the money to pay salaries and of course some went into other employees’ pockets. Cleaning of the City has nothing to do with the Govt but the Mayor & City Council who are inefficient to carry out this job. I SAY CLOSED THEM DOWN AND WE WILL HAVE SOME ACTION IMMEDIATELY.

    • gzplayter  On December 23, 2012 at 2:15 am

      This once beautiful country didn’t just get to be what it is due to the city council. The government in general is to be blamed. Show us the money where it’s coming from to clean up the city and I will show you just where it is. Locked up within the government bureaucratic device. Time for changes is now so lets stop throwing the blaming around and do something with the mess, you are seeing every where. Lets ask our parliamentarians to look around and see if they can do something to set an example where the garbage is most visible. Then maybe others will be encourage to do likewise.

      If not now, when?

  • Marius Okker  On December 14, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    12 years from 1950-1962 my wife and I lived in Guyana where I was working for Bookers Sugar Estates at Port-Mourant and Enmore and both our children were born there. We treasure the memories and lots of photographs and 8 mm. film of the wonderful time we had and often went to Georgetown for our shopping. I cannot understand how it is possible that such a beautiful town, as it was then, can have deteriorated so much. ,What a shame. Sincerely hope that you will get a new town council that will solve the problem. I am now 83 years of age and intended to take my 2 children for a visit to their country of birth, but I have been advised not to do so, as it seems to be rather dangerous for foreign tourists.
    M.O. Okker.

    • gzplayter  On December 23, 2012 at 1:38 am

      Sorry for the deplorable state our country has drifted into. It is difficult for us to go back “year after year ” and find this once beautiful country in such a mess. Our politicians are the most shameless I have seen in quite a long time and I believe the reason they have shown such disregard is the fact that we have never called their leadership into question. This does not only reflect poor management on the part of the city council but every sector of our government. The one thing I would like to say to the gentleman is, Guyana is relatively safe if you compare it with other countries. I have been going back and forth for the past 18 years and never once have I felt my life in danger.

  • Premwattie Sawh  On December 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    There is no question Guyana is a beautiful lush country. Done right, Tourism can become it’s next major industry. The Ministry of Tourism is investing time and money developing the Tourism Industry, however, as I have said sometime ago, for tourism to become a viable industry in Guyana, the filth and stench needs to be eradicated. Stop sending “photo Shopped” images to deceived people. If the powers that be have no intention of doing so, then stop spending people’s time and money on an industry that will go nowhere.
    Begin by educating the people and yourselves. Provide the necessary tools and skills

  • Roxroy Parris  On December 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Wonderful, objective overview of inept city and country governance. We need to hold our leaders accountable for issues that can seriously affect the “health” of a nation.

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