Mr Patrick Gomes in ‘Georgetown: the Augean stable’ (SN, Jan 22) laments that the descendants of two continents (meaning Indians and Africans) are responsible for the decay of Georgetown. In my travels to Guyana, conversations with people who lived and or visited Georgetown during the colonial era or shortly thereafter described it as a truly picturesque green city. Even visitors from Trinidad, Dominica, Grenada, Antigua, etc, told me they were impressed with the city. However, those who visited Guyana since the 1980s described it as stinking, filthy and despicable. I took a few visitors from Mauritius to Guyana last July. They could not believe how dirty the city was.
“Vishnu why are these people keeping the city so dirty?” one asked. I had an answer but I can’t write it for the public. Many of the older Guyanese of all races I spoke with and with whom my Mauritian friends interacted indicated how much confidence has declined in local governance.
It would really take a few rivers to run through the city to clean it as in the Augean Stables fable.
I should note that those very Guyanese who strew garbage all over the place don’t do the same when they migrate to NY, Antigua, Barbados, Aruba, St Martin, Tobago, etc; they become model citizens because of the harsh penalties for pollution. I was in Tobago over the extended Martin Luther King weekend for the elections and came across several Guyanese eating from styrofoam boxes and drinking from plastic bottles. They did not dump the garbage in drains or on the streets. They put them in receptacles.
The same must be encouraged in Guyana. It is about time that stiff enforceable penalties be imposed on those who engage in polluting activities.