The February 12 edition of Kaieteur News carried a letter headlined, ‘Time to tackle the filthy state of Georgetown,’ written by Mr T Pemberton.
I am in complete sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the writer. City Hall has the responsibility to keep the city in an acceptable state of cleanliness and order. I want to assure Mr Pemberton and others that with all our imperfections, we are doing as much as is possible within the confines of our very slim financial resources, and an apparent effort by some within and without the administration to strangle the city into submission.
The letter refers to the Indian Commemoration site at the western end of Merriman Mall. Interestingly, we have been working in that very area for the past week. Before I read this letter, I was on the ground inspecting the work being done to clean this entire area. While there, one of our trucks was in the process of removing the grass and debris which we had earlier cut and cleared.
The big problem is that there is a set of persons who, in spite of our best efforts to arrest and charge them for littering, continue this pernicious practice. For example, the area east of the Monument is used as a dumpsite by some who are anti-social, mentally unstable, or as others would say, human derelicts. One evening at 11pm, I personally had the constabulary arrest a man who was throwing all sorts of unmentionables, while another had already lit a fire in this area.
Some convert even as we clean, the pavement opposite St Rose’s into a mini night/day shelter.
I sought the assistance of the Ministry of Health some time ago to coordinate an effort to remove these persons from the city streets. The Minister was very understanding, but this is a complex human/social problem.
I appeal to relatives of these persons who roam and litter the streets, to assist the agencies to work with them, so that these persons are not nuisances and major contributors to the filthy state of some sections of the city, in particular, around our markets.
I invite the media to see for themselves the work being done around the Indian Commemoration site and other parts of the city.
May I add this caveat, since the letter refers to tourism, perhaps that ministry could bring together the relevant stakeholders, so we can tackle what is in essence a multifaceted and serious social problem in Georgetown.
The municipality, for reasons which I have for years publicly complained about has been given neither the human nor financial resources to deal with the much wider problem of the city. I pray for the day when Local Government is emancipated. It has been in gestation for thirteen years or more, and has so far not even produced a still-born child. With the reform, we expect as in a modern democracy to give the mayor of the capital and other towns some elbow room to satisfy the justifiable concerns of citizens, such as the author of the letter.
Hamilton Green, JP