Over the course of the next six months more than $100 million is expected to be spent to clean up the Le Repentir Cemetery in what Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green is calling a “mere cosmetic operation” by the government.
At a press conference on Monday, acting Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker had said that works at the cemetery will include desilting of drains, reactivating of kokers and the removal of garbage from illegal dumping sites, a release from Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
For years, Le Repentir cemetery has been in poor condition and there have been sporadic efforts by the government and city council to improve the situation.
In March, during the budget presentation, Fin-ance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had said that $1 billion will be spent on a countrywide clean-up campaign and $500 million of this would go towards enhancing the general physical environment of the capital.
Whittaker was also quoted as saying that the services of the inmates of the Georgetown Prisons would be used for the clearing of the bush, while tenders will be advertised for the clearing of drains and road works.
Asked whether the council was consulted by the Ministry, Green said, “It is unfortunate that government is proceeding to announce and do things without the sophistication of consulting or informing city council.”
He added, “This is another government propaganda blitz to diminish the role of City Hall,” he added. Shortly after the announcement in March, Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had said that the figure of $500 million was “just a teardrop in the ocean” and that she would have liked for the council and the minister to have discussions on how to spend the money in Georgetown.
Meanwhile, Whittaker had also said that a technical committee comprising representatives from different ministries and agencies has been established to spearhead the clean-up campaign.
Green, however, said that he was unaware of anyone from the council being on the committee. Stabroek News understands that the council’s Solid Waste Director Walter Narine is on the committee.
Green also spoke of a parliamentary motion for the clean-up of the capital by APNU MP Volda Lawerence that was ignored by the government.
“Government’s insincerity is demonstrated by the fact that last year Parliament unanimously approved programme for the rehabilitation of Georgetown…Govern-ment has failed to implement that programme,” he said.