Le Repentir cemetery clean-up expected to last six months

The planned clean-up of the Le Repentir cemetery is expected to begin next month and could last until the end of the year, according to acting Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker.

The Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development expects to see by July 8 the opening of tenders and for the rehabilitation work to commence on the cemetery by the latter part of July with a target of completing works by December, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported Whittaker as saying during a visit to the cemetery.

It was noted that close to $100M of the total of $500M set aside for the clean-up programme for the city this year is expected to be expended on the venture, which is at present being advertised.

Overgrown alongside one of the dilapidated roads inside the Le Repentir Cemetery. (Government Information Agency photo)
Overgrown alongside one of the dilapidated roads inside the Le Repentir Cemetery. (Government Information Agency photo)

“I remember this area as a little boy; we used to come play cricket and to play hide and seek around these tombs. Now we can play guerrilla warfare here,” Whittaker was quoted as saying.

The work on the cemetery, which stretches from St Steven Street all the way to Princes Street, will entail clearing vegetation, cleaning of the internal drains and repairing the damage to the roads within the cemetery. “…In short, we are going to pay respects to those who lie here and at the same time improve the aesthetics of the area,” Whittaker added.

Project Manager of the Ministry’s Solid Waste Department Gordon Giles, who accompanied the minister in the visit to cemetery and other areas that will be addressed under the massive city clean-up exercise, explained that clearing the internal drains is essential to draining the burial ground.

Giles also noted that the roads within the grounds, in spite of being built some years ago, remain in very good condition. Their foundation of crusher run and crushed bricks remain, but are now filled with grass, other vegetation and mud. Giles said that the plan is to expose the base of the roads, grade and shape them and then seal them with crusher run.

The clean-up will be the first time that such a large amount has been directed towards the restoring Le Repentir, which is the largest burial site in Guyana.

 City drainage canals

Vegetation overruns the waterlogged tombs within the Le Repentir Cemetery. (Government Information Agency photo)
Vegetation overruns the waterlogged tombs within the Le Repentir Cemetery. (Government Information Agency photo)

Meanwhile, GINA said another $50M is expected to clean up seven of the main drainage canals in the city, including the Sussex and the Church streets canals, both of which were visited by the minister’s team. The canals will be de-silted to improve their carrying capacity so that they could store more water.

These works, for which bids are being sought, are expected to commence in July as well. Minister Whittaker said they will be monitored to ensure that the contractors dispose of de-silted material from the bed of the canals.

To ensure maintenance of the works carried out under the city clean-up, money will also be spent to fix the City Council vehicles, trucks and machinery to ensure that they effectively carry out the kind of works that are expected in terms of maintenance, he also noted.

In addition, Whittaker emphasised the need for public cooperation to keep the areas addressed clean and sustained. He pointed out that it was only in the latter half of last year that works were undertaken to address the Sussex Street Canal. To ensure that the public “buy in” to the programme and ensure the sustainability of works carried out, the ministry has been conducting consultations within the public, with a second round of consultation is to begin July 1, GINA added.

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