Does it matter anyway?

The seasonal vending that never fails to bring a period of chaos and confusion to the capital is here again. The earliest signs of the most serious congestion are located in the vicinity of the Stabroek Market. Two things are immediately obvious. First, the municipality has lost such control as it had of street vending in parts of downtown Georgetown and it does not appear that it has either the energy or the will to regain that control. Secondly, the earlier heavy-handed attempts by the government to clear areas in front of the Stabroek Market of vendors, who had more or less put down roots there over time, has gradually waned and the area once again has a look of congestion to it.

Perhaps the most significant observation, though, has to do with the fact that the policy of creating vendors’ arcades to rid the streets of vendors, or at least to lessen the numbers, has simply failed. The contracts between the municipality and the vendors have been broken both by the decision by some vendors to acquire stalls in the arcades, while retaining their positions on the streets and pavements and by the pockets of corruption that manifest themselves in conniving between some municipal constables and vendors that is buttressed by a regimen of kickbacks.

These days there seems to be little merit in commenting publicly on the various ways in which vending on the streets has reduced our capital. For one thing, other appalling urban transgressions including those that have to do with garbage, transgressions of the building code, vehicle parking discrepancies and the dangers posed by unauthorised adjustments to sections of pavement have been added to the problem of pavement vendors. Nor is anyone fooled any longer by the mouthings of government, municipal officials, businessmen and social commentators about the state of the city. The fact of the matter is that we have learnt to live with it. Creating an enhanced Georgetown may be an excellent talking point for public discourse but the truth is that it is not an issue that has generated any real sense of urgency.

Nor does it really matter who is blame anymore. Georgetown has become our collective shame, though we have long passed the point where we feel any embarrassment. The issue will be discussed in the context of its impact on tourism, whether or not much of the blame ought not to accrue to the commercial sector, whether we have not arrived at a juncture where the citizens should be compelled by law to take greater responsibility for the cleanliness of the capital or even whether the solution to the problem might not repose in hastening local government elections, though that, most assuredly, is not where the problem lies. When all is said and done, however, the simple truth that we continually evade is that the state of our city really does not matter sufficiently to us, to give rise to a collective and determined initiative to do something about it.

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The Coconut Industry

The recent announcement that Guyana will be hosting a high-profile coconut industry forum in October this year will probably not attract much sustained interest beyond the direct stakeholders in the industry though in his briefing on the forum and the industry as a whole provided to this newspaper, Mr Raymond Trotz, Chairman of the National Stakeholders Forum for Coconut Development hoped otherwise.

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Public/Private Sector Partnership

The evidence that all is far from well in terms of the relationship between the government and the private sector can no longer be ignored.

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Keeping private sector concerns in the public eye

The burden of our responsibility as the Stabroek News’ weekly Business Supplement is to publish stories and points of view on issues pertaining to the growth, development, challenges, limitations, successes and failures of the local business community.

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City Hall, central government and the parking meter matter

It is a comforting thing that sections of the citizenry have opted to hold City Hall to account in the parking meter brouhaha, if only to make the point that its behaviour in the matter of the rolling out of the project runs counter to the very commitment that it made to democratic conduct when it took office to replace a predecessor administration that had itself been accused of, not infrequently, acting as a law onto itself.

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A perspective on the small business sector

While the Stabroek Business has been unable to secure a reliable estimate of the extent of the increase in urban trading over the past five years we have noticed the pronounced upsurge in small business investments in sectors such as grooming and beauty treatment (barbering, hairdressing, cosmetology), fashion, food vending and IT goods and services.

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City Hall and the parking meters

The very last thing that City Hall needs now that it is probably better-positioned than it was a few months ago to put behind it a past strewn with accusations of fraud, mismanagement and corruption is more of the same, though it seems on the basis of the available evidence that it may not be particularly mindful of the consequences of passing the same way twice.

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