OPINION: GUYANA IS DISORDERED – By Peeping Tom

Kaieteur News – I hate to sound like V. S. Naipaul, but it is problem enough when you are a small country. Imagine, therefore, the problems that arise when you are a small, disordered society.
Guyana is a country with a small population. The small size of the society is further compounded by the ever-increasing disordered nature of the society. No matter what wealth is discovered within this small economic space, it is not going to benefit the population much, unless the disorders are ordered.

With each government, this task is becoming more difficult and two examples will suffice in explaining the dilemma which the government, and any future government, will face.   

The British have been exploiters of our national patrimony, there may have been extreme levels of poverty and inequality, but at least they left us with some idea of how to create an ordered society. This is best seen within the capital city.

The British left us with a fine laid-out city, carved out from the coast and designed in rectangular grids with most streets at right angles to each other. Alongside some of the streets were main canals into which small drains flowed allowing the city, constructed on slightly sloping lands, to drain easily. The streets were wide, creating space which allowed the small city to breathe easily.

A few days ago, I was walking along the avenue on Main Street and it struck me as to how beautiful a city the colonisers left us. Here in the heart of the city, were avenues which divided Main Street, Carmichael Street, Waterloo Street, Camp Street, Thomas Street and East Street. This is an example of the sort of attention that was paid to order by the British in their design of Georgetown.

Can you imagine what Georgetown would be like if we had to design our own city? Guess what, I am sure there would have been none of those avenues. In their place would have been houses or businesses. We would have tried to crowd every single available piece of land in the city. Driving through the city would have been like driving through a tunnel.

Right now, there is mass disorder taking place within the city. All over the wards of the city, small businesses are popping up. Many of these are in residential areas. Zoning is out of the window. All around as you drive in the city, you see bottom houses being converted to all manner of businesses.

It is difficult to comprehend how permission is being given for small businesses to be opened in residential areas. Certainly all of those businesses would have needed the permission of some central authority to convert all these buildings into business places. If this permission was indeed granted, then there is a serious problem in this country, because it has created a quite disordered city with a business springing up here, there and everywhere.

It would be interesting to know whether all of these businesses that are springing up are licensed and whether those issuing the licence are checking to see whether permission has been granted to establish these businesses in the areas in which they are located.

One wonders also how come there is a policy of no businesses in new housing areas, yet many businesses are now popping up in these areas. Are these businesses registered? How can they be registered when they are in breach of the very policies laid down by the government?

The government should seriously consider a site audit of all the small businesses, including cake shops and snackettes, which are mushrooming around the country, to determine whether the requisite permits, including tax registrations, are in place. Not to mention the disorderliness created by pavement and roadside vending.

Guyana needs development; but Guyana needs ordered development. No amount of economic growth is going to translate to a better standard of living for our people unless something is done about this chaotic development that is taking place, especially when it comes to land and property use in the country.

The British left us an authentic and well-designed town, Georgetown. We have not created any other town since then. We may have named other places as towns, but these are not genuine towns, since even today, many lack the infrastructure and the zoning rules to be classified as towns.

eorgetown is a dying city and sadly, it is still our only city. If we are to reclaim it as a genuine town and if we are to move forward and create other towns, whether primary or secondary, we must halt the continuing disorder that is taking place right now.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Kaieteur News.)

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Comments

  • Francis Quamina Farrier  On 02/11/2021 at 10:43 am

    When you do an audit of the ‘leaders’ the majority are pass students of Queens College. Both Forbes and Cheddi were students of Queen’s College. While I submit that there are many great past students of Queens, I still have to wonder why the leaders which Queen’s has produced have turned out to be what they have turned out to be!

    • Winston  On 02/11/2021 at 12:05 pm

      It has nothing to do with the school they attended so you cannot blame Queens College. It’s the mindset of the individual. Somehow those types managed to endear themselves to the Guyanese people with promises of building a country for ALL Guyanese. Well we know that did not happen and is still not happening. Power hungry, greedy and crooked politicians are still the order of the day in Guyana.

  • detow  On 02/11/2021 at 1:25 pm

    Guyana’s one and only real problem is, and has always been, people who feel that everything in that country belongs only to those who look like themselves. Solve that problem (a virtual impossibility I think) and everything else will self correct. Think about it, that is the only real problem that the almighty British left us with, DIVIDE, SUPPRESS AND RULE.

  • Stanley Greaves.  On 02/11/2021 at 1:52 pm

    The British did leave us with the “Garden City of the Caribbean” and a drainage system that used natural dynamics of gravity and tides managed by sluice gates -kokers- which did a great job. They also left an educational system at primary level that employed graduates from the Teachers’ training College as it was then called. The certificate was recognized in the UK and provided entry to universities as well. There were trade classes -woodworking for boys in Kingston led by Van Possum trained at a UK technical college. Girls went to the Carnegie School to study domestics. Visits were scheduled for the Guyana Museum There were also annual music festivals and athletics. Poems read during reading lessons. The Government Scholarship 1930’s sent recipients to the top universities in the UK.
    The Governor was the CEO and had to send annual reports to the UK. Literally every cent had to be accounted for by cashiers in local departments every day.

  • dhanpaul narine  On 02/11/2021 at 8:51 pm

    We took over and things started to fall apart. Slowly, but surely, the graft, corruption, jobs for the boys and girls, based on political patronage, led to mediocrity and shoddy standards. We were happy with it, and were prepared to pay the person a ‘lil freck’ to handle our business. Like a cancer, it has spread, and second rate is passable. Georgetown is but a symptom of a bigger problem: our unwillingness to demand accountability and transparency. Today’s youth would have no idea what Stanley Greaves is talking about, but yes, there was a time when things worked, and the trains ran on time, and if you were late for work, a letter would be in your file, and gentlemen took off their hats in offices. We walked barefoot to school, but learning was never far from our minds; we didn’t have a lot but we placed value on the little things.

  • Dennis Albert  On 02/11/2021 at 9:16 pm

    Glen Lall and his people forgot that it was SLAVES who dug those trenches, built the canals and kokers under the gunfire of the Dutch, French pirates and the few British criminals who occupied the Dutch plantations after settling in Barbados.

  • Dennis Albert  On 02/11/2021 at 9:24 pm

    Peeping Tom,
    Is this the “order” you want to see in Guyana?

    • Dennis Albert  On 02/11/2021 at 9:29 pm

      ?????
      The decorum of American people are disorderly. Why is she using the police to murder a Black man?

      Mi GAAN bed!
      America is DISORDERLY!

      CRINGE!

  • Ron Saywack  On 02/12/2021 at 11:03 am

    “The British left us an authentic and well-designed town, Georgetown,” claims Peeping Tom.

    Are you sure?

    There is much more to the history of Georgetown (and Guyana at large) than its British legacy.

    A brief recap of history:

    Our homeland has had a tumultuous history from the time it was first spotted by Alonzo de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci in 1499 and throughout the period it was subsequently occupied, conquered, and reconquered by rival colonial powers.

    The centuries of exploitation and plunder by the invading, marauding colonial forces have not only left our captive peoples in a perpetual state of destitution and struggle for survival, it correspondingly made the exploiters and their descendants wealthy and living in the lap of luxury at our painful expense.

    The Dutch were the first to colonize our land. They built the capital city of the nascent Colony of Demerara-Essequibo on Borselan Island in the Demerara River.

    The British captured the Colony (Demerara-Essequibo) in 1781. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Kingston chose to build a small town at the mouth of the Demerara River. He did not initially intend to relocate the Colony’s capital city from Borselan Island to a new location, just the establishment of a small town.

    The following year (1782) the French seized the Colony from the British and began to construct it as their capital city. They named it La Nouvelle Ville. At that time, the small town had one dam, Brickdam, bordered by two canals, the Croal Street Canal and the Hadfield Street Canal.

    In 1784, the Dutch reclaimed the City from France and renamed it Stabroek after Nicolaas Geelvinck, a top official of the Dutch West-India Company.

    The Dutch began to build sea walls and canals, similar to the ones in their homeland, to keep the Atlantic at bay to the north and to drain rainwater from the highlands to the south.

    In 1812, the British recaptured the Colony and renamed it Georgetown after King George the III. They also built a drainage system.

    It should be noted that when the European occupiers built the large boulevards and canals, etc., they didn’t build them for the slaves (or the indentured slaves). It was for their own comfort and convenience.

    During the years Georgetown was occupied, our people were being brutally subjugated and exploited on plantations and deprived of any kind of education or training skills. Our children were allowed education up to high school level. No universities or technical institutes were built anywhere.

    Anyone wanting a higher education had to travel abroad – and only a few were able to afford it. Thus our people were grossly ill-prepared for post-colonialism.

    The British finally left Georgetown (and the-now former colony) in 1966, a little more than 50 years ago. They left us broke, beaten and unskilled. There was no preparatory regimen for an orderly transition (from massa rule) to self-governance. We were, for all intents and purposes, abandoned as political orphans.

    The country was crudely transitioned over to folks with little to no political or governing skills who prodigiously mismanaged our affairs and ruthlessly misruled the newly-liberated nation with devastating consequences.

    As many now know, more than a million of our nation’s sons and daughters (including some of the most gifted and brightest) have fled to distant lands to seek a better life.

    Are you therefore surprised that there is chaos (and a free-for-all) in Georgetown and elsewhere? Are you flummoxed that no new city has been built in a post-colonial Guyana in light of our tumultuous, troubled history?

    Ron Saywack.

    • Dennis Albert  On 02/13/2021 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you for reminding us of the horrors of colonialism and pointing that the system was designed for the colonialists rather than the colonised.
      When the colonisers left they could care less what happened to the colonised; until the oil discoveries came in 2015…

  • Jo  On 02/12/2021 at 1:48 pm

    Sometimes you wonder if keeping the British hegemony would have helped us better. We know that their colonialism was there to benefit them financially and enrich the resources of their homeland’s various cities for example. However, through democratic means used by the creoles of the society, our right to be involved in Government was divested step by step. Then of course, leaders sprang up all over the colonial world, who used demagoguery to nationalize their countries. We know the sad story that continues where there’s always a hierarchy of your own which acts in its own interests. Consider the farmers in India at the moment. Consider so many leaders for life in Africa. But then consider this state of affairs in so many developed countries. And they all have so called democracies that they boast about.The ladder still exists everywhere for those well connected. The fact of our large racial blocs only highlights what exists elsewhere..even in Canada.

    It’s a stunning tribute to British Colonialism that they transported into the countries they ruled institutions and standards of efficiency and excellence in various sectors.

    The missing ingredient is character. The prevailing other ingredient is sheer poverty. Societies of the poor seem always to be the plaything of the demagogue. An educated stable middle class is the connective glue.

    Now what other devils are in the detail? For me, being drawn into the American value system of money as the most important measure of a person’s worth, the individualistic bent towards freedom at any expense..see the reaction to Covid..the indulgence in endless fads for a quick buck which explains how they got to a stage that getting high on a drug is a passage of rite. That was preceded by the cigarette industry that didn’t care who and how many died. And so a poor country, not allowed to set its own value system free of US hegemony, has now become a mere trans-shipment port for the South American drug trade to the US, Europe and Canada.

    I think enviously of the other Caribbean colonies who did not go wildly towards independence. But of course, places like uncomplaining Bermuda are safe harbours for the riches of the wealthy.

    Until and unless we have a strong leader, of any gender, with integrity of character bolstered by spiritual values,along with a commitment to shared governance from a team of like-minded associates we will go nowhere. Further, send the guns back to the Americans, close down the portals to sexual indulgence and become stewards for each other on principle. And get the Americans to get rid of the drug trade their lifestyle has fostered.

  • Jo  On 02/12/2021 at 1:50 pm

    Correction! the US,Europe and Africa..as I recently read.

  • dhanpaul narine  On 02/12/2021 at 8:30 pm

    Independence is not the problem, every country has the right to its own destiny. The problem was, and continues to be, mismanagement. Political patronage, corruption, giving top jobs to the under qualified and a general absence of standards, are all part of the problem. Look at Nigeria, with all the oil, and the reserves, but only 10 per cent of the people really benefit. We can go on and on, but you get the picture. An efficient financial system, with checks and balances, and accountability, is a good start, whether you are a poor, or middle income country.

  • Dennis Albert  On 02/13/2021 at 2:47 pm

    My criticism with Peeping Tom is that the writer seeks to bring “order” by insinuating that the colonisers, or the European elitists know what to do for the third world. In other words, Peeping Tom is indirectly promoting the white burden thesis.

    This connection of the “white burden” began with European settlement and Indigenous displacement and genocide, and continued with African slavery and the systems of domination and extraction that evolved from it in the Americas.

    Everyone knows that the ABCEU countries encourage and turn a blind eye to corrupt politicians who buy up entire swathes of prime real estate in London, NYC, Toronto and Southern France, so it’s hypocritical.

  • surendra  On 02/14/2021 at 4:36 pm

    Guyana is Paradise! I was born in England of Guyanese parents who are in their 80s and still travel to travel to Guyana. I’ve read many of the comments and remarks, most interesting. Traveling to Guyana since 1989 I have seen many changes in this beautiful country. My concerns and sadden by the influx of Chinese Nationals entering the country. I have no prejudice against peoples but the Chinese are given much “freedom” to enter by Governments regardless of which parties. Yes, many are there to do business but at the same time undercutting the local Guyanese business.

    The Chinese are doing lots of construction and development due to the attractive low interest loans by China. I know that if Guyana Government are unable to repay the loans, then surely it will become Chinese ownership or in return to do large scale mining, forestry, and other resources in the untouched hinterland to feed China’s economy. This is already happening in countries in Africa, Mauritius and South Pacific and NOT employing locals. Same with the construction of the Marriot Hotel no or very few Guyanese. US Exxon Mobile discovered oil off the coast of Guyana, and I hope that they employ Guyanese in all sector. They will be. Norway was protecting Guyana forests by giving $US250M to continue with the low carbon footprint. The Chinese will take advantage of fishing and other produce to ship to China. Chinese people are productive when it benefits them and China and can be deceitful and give them an Inch and they want a foot.
    They also like to make claims and many can be rude.

    The Chinese logging company is tearing down the forest in Berbice and Governments turn a blind eye. I am very annoyed that the Governments are not thinking to do recycling from scrap metal, glass, plastics, paper and other. This is how one keeps the country clean. Guyana don’t need more fancy hotels. The peoples of Guyana should come first and protect what is theirs’s. They should refer to the lovely song by Dave Martin, “Guyana is we own”.
    If not Chinese will be the majority and Guyanese…??
    Beautiful Guyana.

    • Dennis Albert  On 02/14/2021 at 5:55 pm

      Plenty of the eight to ten story high rises that popped up during the decade are Chinese-owned. The question is whether a Guyanese investor is allowed to own property in China?

    • Dennis Albert  On 02/14/2021 at 10:35 pm

      If ABCEU European countries have people like this, then no way I’m leaving Guyana:

    • Ron Saywack  On 02/15/2021 at 9:25 am

      This is very upsetting:

      It is my understanding that the Chinese logging company Bai Shan Lin has been engaged in heavy logging of Guyana’s priceless forest, allegedly, with minimal oversight since 2007.

      It is reported that large swathes of greenheart, purpleheart, and other hardwood trees have been felled and shipped to China. This unwise destruction of the forest results in the irreversible loss of the habitat of an untold number of species that have proliferated there for millions of years. This is crazy!

      Someone has got to put an end to this madness. Get the Chinese logging company out of there!

      Ron Saywack.

      P.S.: If anyone can give us an update on the logging situation in Guyana, please do so. Thank you.

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