Crimes against cleanliness -If the PPP loses

Yes friends. Guilty! These are recycled thoughts being presented once more for your consumption. Six-seven years ago I was immersed in the myriad of issues related to the vital social and societal necessity that was/is Solid Waste Management (SWM).

A new and converted “expert”, mostly academic and armchair, but yet frequent in the field in two communities, on the Madela Dump Site, in Eccles, in “little” St Vincent at SAPIL  and in an occasional municipal courtroom, I felt , and still do feel, extremely knowledgeable enough to comment on the subject of garbage disposal and related matters.

How obvious it is to us hapless citizens of the Big, Beautiful Blighted Republic of Guyana that a “Garbage Crisis” always seems recycled and everlastingly present. Hence my own re-cycled observations and opinions hereunder.

The most comprehensive SWM 2004 project

Most simply and briefly put, this IDB-funded project was a Public Education and Awareness Pilot Project meant to sensitise the publics of Lodge and Regent Street about nearly every aspect of managing garbage. Straight off people were taught that “managing” did not mean merely disposal.

Managed by the Guyenterprise Advertising Agency, this public education/PR project seems to be the one which will remain the most comprehensive, most effective – and most continuously necessary – that I’ll ever be involved in. And I have participated, even fashioned, very many in my time. I give credit to the knowledge, skills, vision, leadership and capacity of (the now Dr) Paloma Mohammed, a young Guyanese Communication expert and strategist whom I have known since her childhood.

It was explained early on to the two project communities and all Guyana who become quite interested, that “Solid Waste Management is a disposal strategy used by progressive communities to sort, re-cycle, convert and dispose of garbage. It is no `clean-up campaign’ but a collective holistic behaviour that leads to less disposable garbage and healthier environments for all.”

Of course, a primary aim was also to educate the two areas about simple, effective and healthy ways of disposing their waste products. Their complete participation and that of the City Council had to be vital. But I’ll return to that aspect.

To illustrate how impressed then confident I became about this months-long exercise, I used to challenge folks – including the few skeptics and critics – to identify some area or element of Solid Waste Management/Garbage Disposal our Education/Awareness project missed or omitted. No one could!

Just an idea of the exercise’s scope and all-embracing nature: attention was paid to examining existing municipal/solid waste laws; educating residents, business people, commercial entities, nursery to secondary youth, city constabulary and waste-disposal staff etc; old and new waste disposal techniques; re-cycling; composting; littering; dumping; stray and dead animals; the variety of waste (Medical/Industrial/Liquid/Solid); flooding landfills as against dump-sites, municipal courts; SWM in school curricula; training and equipping the MCC constab;  types of garbage bags, bins and other receptacles.

Lord! You must get the idea by now! Yes we even overstepped our “mandate” sometimes. For this was really about changing human behaviour. Just as it has to be now.

How? Approaches…

In summary, such a project demanded real multi-media, inter-personal, technological and common-sense, people-friendly techniques.  All were employed.  We briefed our publics, our staff, our survey-takers, the City Council, Educational authorities, and learnt from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Office, magistrates and judges, health professionals, the dumpsite workers and both victims and beneficiaries of garbage disposal.

The media, live drama, scope meetings, competitions, exhibitions all were employed. But then came failure after stunning success.

Embarrassment, failure and flood!

Even as that education project, eventually and unavoidably, intervened into City Council responsibilities, success attracted municipal embarrassment.

They had no adequate disposal receptacles for the areas; the garbage trucks were challenged although it was then that they introduced the procedure of residents taking their bins to the roadside; they could not respond to our hotline calls indicating dead animals or other disposal problems; their constables and wardens misused cameras meant to catch litter-bugs; a magistrate was reluctant to convict Constabulary suspects; and their dumpsite at Mandela in the capital was a crime other societies would have prosecuted successfully; and was it not criminal when Princes Street children contracted dumpsite-related illnesses? I’d better stop there.

Because I also know of City Hall’s defence. Then – and now. Our project succeeded in making Lodge people so conscious of waste disposal; of the Filaria they faced; then of the pride they began to have, as they identified derelict vehicles and tons of years-long garbage by December 2004.

Alas, City Hall’s lapses then the floods of late 2004/2005 January compromised wonderful “human” success. But the IDB didn’t cry. They know Guyana and they knew success (and “failure”.) What is to be done today? You tell me…

If the PPP loses the next elections…

Any credible, fairly-elected government will attract my patriotic, professional support even though I’m not voting for any of the Dudes.

However, I still enjoy the freedom of expression to speculate decently. Suppose the PPP loses, badly, next time? (What? I’m dreaming?)

Should that happen, what becomes of —-the low carbon strategy? Who will build new casinos? Who will name our one stadium after Lloyd-Kanhai? Will the UK and USA reveal cocaine connections and provide more assistance? Will retroactive legislation provide benefits to those now denied? Will there be new Guyanese Diplomats? Who will superintend long-overdue sports projects for the people? What will become of FITUG and Commissioner Greene? And about 20 Heads of Corporations and Boards? Will new MP’s enjoy new perks, privileges and visas?

Who will be the new President with less power? Will Gays and Lesbians be more appreciated? Will sugar survive? Will there be another ERC? And a good procurement commission? Will old crimes be investigated? Oh My! I can think of more but space…

Ponder!

*1) Citizens commit crimes against the environment too – along with City Hall. Just check the Municipal and District Councils Act 28:01.

*2) In Brazil they used to exchange pounds of milk for pounds of garbage turned in. What can we do here?

*3) is it true? An Amerindian Guyanese will re-place the late Honorary – Consul Faria in Barbados?

*4) Mr. Walter Willis has to be Guyana’s Engineer – General!

*5) Who are the new owners of the Windies Bar and the Palm Court in the capital?

‘Til Next Week!

(Comments? allanafenty@yahoo.com)

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