​​Georgetown Guyana: Under a Microscope in 2019 – by Francis Quamina Farrier

​​Georgetown: Under a Microscope in 2019 – by Francis Quamina Farrier

City Hall – Georgetown-Guyana

Following the hotly contested November 12, Local Government Elections last year, the (approximate) 202,000 citizens of Georgetown got a new Chief Citizen in the person of Pandit Ubraj Narine who received the Mayoral Chain from out-going Mayor Patricia Chase-Green. There was much work Mayor Chase-Green had on her hands, and there is equally much work for Mayor Narine, as Georgetown slowly inches its way to regaining its lost glory, and become “A Shining City on a Mud-Flat”. But it is an up-hill task in a city which falls below sea level whenever the tide rises.

There are so many things which the current citizens should be grateful for;  the Georgetown we inherited is one of the best laid-out cities on the planet, for starters. In past times, Georgetown used to be known as, “The Garden City of the Caribbean”. The city lost that impressive title about thirty years ago when standards began to tumble.  

However, during the past three years there has been a brave effort to turn things around. Citizens should now collectively, aim for an even greater celebrated Capital. The Georgetown of fifty and more years ago, was clean and tidy and never flooded the way is has been doing in more recent times. So, what is the future of this city as we continue into 2019 and beyond? What would Georgetown look like in the next five, fifty and a hundred years from now? A lot depends on how we maintain and develop it now and in the coming years, for ourselves and for generations to come.

A majority of the Citizens of Georgetown are hoping that this Capital City of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, will continue to improve in terms of cleanliness and quietness during 2019. For well over two decades, Georgetown had descended from being regarded as “The Garden City of the Caribbean”, to the dubious title of “The Garbage City”, as well as being one of the NOISIEST cities in the Caricom group of nations. It is disappointing for older citizens who knew the city when the environment was always as clean as a whistle and flowers bloomed everywhere. Some recalled the period when there used to be various prizes for Best Kept Properties of varying categories. Those were the days when even Tenement Yards were kept clean and tidy. So the years of garbage and flooding in the city of Georgetown, pains many of the older citizens who had seen and lived in such a beautiful and well-maintained city. Change is always a reality – but change is only welcomed when it brings with it, betterment.

So how was life in Georgetown for citizens during 2018? The big clean-up in the latter months of 2015, after over two decades of neglect, had brought a breath of fresh air as tons of garbage were removed. Many silted-up drains and canals were cleaned. Parapets over-run with grass and weeds were attended to, as the city of Georgetown was given that much needed and long overdue makeover, and for many citizens, it was like wakening up from a nightmare and greeting a new dawn. Three years later, was that momentum maintained, is the question being posed by some citizens. There are resurging small pockets of garbage to be seen here and there. There are some canals which are also filled with grass again; the Vlissengen/Irving street canal as well as the Church street canal being two examples. The two principal Garbage Service Companies, Pooran Bros. and Chevons, have complained repeatedly about late or no payment for their services. Will that situation recur in 2019?

Most of the Municipal markets in the city are very sub-standard one citizen said; “They are in need of increased attention and on-going maintenance.” While impressive rehabilitation work on the Kity Market commenced about three years ago, that work has been suspended some months now. The Wharf Section of the Stabroek Market is literally falling into the Demerara river. La Penitence Market also needs better attention. In all of the Municipal Markets, the washroom facilities are extremely sub-standard. Generally in Georgetown, Public Washroom facilities are almost non-existent. One which was at the corner of Middle and Thomas Streets, was demolished a few years ago. The one at the northern end of Carmichael Street, is usually locked and unavailable for use by citizens and tourists.

As 2019 continues to unfold, what is your own assessment of the city of Georgetown? What are your thoughts about the growing number of Pavement Dwellers and People of unsound mind roaming the city? Of having a feeling of being unsafe when crossing a street on the Pedestrian Crossing? Let’s begin with the iconic wooden City Hall building. That building is deteriorating by the day and is of concern by many citizens. Some say that the fact that it is still standing after 130 years, gives testimony to the quality of the material used for its construction, as well as the high quality of the construction itself. However, in more recent years portions have been falling off. The roof is leaking badly, resulting in waterproof material being spread out on the upper floor in the Concert Hall, and large bins placed to collect the leaking rain water. Citizens hope that this building will be repaired during this year. Over a year ago I wrote an article about its terrible condition.

Already repaired and upgraded, are miles and miles of previously pot-hole riddled streets, not only in the main areas of the city, but also in many depressed areas such as West Ruimveldt and Tiger Bay. However, there is still more work to be done in the rehabilitation of the city after so many years of neglect. What is also very important, is the way in which some citizens treat the environment with disdain. Many citizens do the right things, however, to ensure that the city is kept clean. For example, I’ve seen Pavement Vendors cleaning up in the mornings. So, too, Sculptures and Vendors in the Main Street Avenue. One of the large Corporate Citizens which has been keeping their environment clean, is the Banks DIH Denico House in the Stabroek Market area. The pavement around that popular food business, is always hosed down on a regular basis. Mings Products and Services Ltd. is another corporate Citizen which has been having a cleansing team doing regular cleaning up of the northern blocks of the Main Street Avenue. COURTS Store takes care of the southern block. A number of floral trees have been planted by Guyana Stores on the western end of Church Street. Action Tyre on Croal Street has also been maintaining the entire block, which includes the northern section of the Ministry of Education.

For many citizens, one of the on-going irritants in the city of Georgetown, is the NOISE NUISANCE. The incessant honking of vehicle horns – especially by mini bus operators, is adversely affecting many citizens. Then there are those small music carts which BLAST music at decibels a hundred times higher than the tiny vehicles which are operated mainly by young men who seem to have absolutely no concern for the irritation they cause to other citizens, especially the elderly and the sick, as they hawk their CDs and Music Videos with the BOOMING NOISE.

Another ongoing dangerous element in Georgetown is the presence of stray animals including dogs and horses, which roam the city streets by day and night.  What is yet to be tackled, is the desilting of the Koker out-Fall which is next to the John Fernandes wharf. There are large trees growing in that out-fall impeding the free flow of water when the koker is open. That in turn, contributes significantly to the on-going flooding in the downtown commercial area of the city, causing great inconvenience to vendors, shoppers, including tourists, and Business establishments, and for some the loss of finance and good health.

For Georgetown to become even more beautiful than it ever was back in the day as “The Garden City of the Caribbean”, and to blossom into “A shining city on a mud-flat”, needs the cooperation of every single citizen and visitor – from the Mayor and the Councillors to the Corporate Citizens and the Vendors and Property Owners and Tenants – Everyone has to be involved. This could and should be, a National objective.

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Demico House in the Stabroek Market area with resurfaced street and regularly hosed-down pavement. Taxis waiting for passengers. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

The southern side of Guyana Stores at the western end of Church Street. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier) 

Work on the refurbishing of the Kitty Municipal Market has been suspended. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

Work on the refurbishing of the Kitty Municipal Market has been suspended. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

Clean as a whistle; the Regent Street pavement and gutter just outside the City Hall. (Photo by F.Q.Farrier)

One of the NOISY three-wheel BOOM-BOOM Music carts in Georgetown. (Photo by F.Q. Farrier)

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Comments

  • Dennis Wilson  On January 13, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    Those comments and observations need to be implemented to bring back our garden city

  • Andrew foo  On January 15, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    A very refreshing article which reminds us of the beauty of our capital city Georgetown. The picture of the drain reminds me of the days of old when the gutters and alleyways we’re so clean that children played in them.

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