People coming into this country travel along the shocking eyesore that is the East Bank Demerara corridor. It is the main artery into the capital city.
The area stretching from the international airport at Timehri to the Central Georgetown area at Stabroek Market and Parliament Building makes up the central artery to flow into the country’s main centre.
And this stretch stands out as a depressing social eyesore. It marks the country as a place of deplorable socio-economic depression.
The self-image that this area perpetuates causes severe national embarrassment. It fuels low self-esteem and a negative mindset across villages and communities making up the area.
No wonder the talk of the land descends into such harsh, brutal talk. People talk to each other with utter disregard for such things as etiquette, manners, gentleness, kindness or courtesy.
The loud, uncouth way of talking to each other reflects the harsh environment people exist in.
Across the nation we see the widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots.
It’s easy to escape the devastation of the national social order. It’s easy to live in an air-conditioned concrete house in a nice area, move about on the streets in an imported air-conditioned vehicle, and hire house servants, yard workers and other care-takers.
Many people who have the power to transform this land thus become immune and numb to the society’s pulse, the pain and hurt that afflict the heart of this body politic.
Walking the streets, travelling in minibuses, listening to the talk of ordinary folks in the markets, causes deep heartbreak. The land is devastated in its social breakdown.
Last week passengers came off a flight at the airport at Timehri and as they were walking towards the building from the plane, they walked past a senior governing party official and government minister. He was standing there to usher in people he knew on the flight, by-passing the usual procedure.
This blatant act of exercising power and privilege for the benefit of friends and family happened in full view of the incoming passengers, with no discretion or consideration for the image this would convey of how things are done in this country.
This sort of public behaviour fuels a disregard for decent public order.
No wonder the first heartbreak of this country hits people as they walk out of the airport.
For this nation’s population suffers from the incredible wasting away of vitally-needed human resource potential.
They call themselves touts, and the instant people enter this country, they become visible. At the bus and car parks they are everywhere. So many people making their living out of “hustlin’”, so much wasted human resources.
Walking the streets at night in any village on the East Bank Demerara, or in Central Georgetown, is downright dangerous. Young men on bicycles patrol these streets preying on whomever they could.
In fact, one young woman had her blackberry stolen from her last Tuesday. She simply chose to walk on Regent Street in mid-afternoon. That turned out to be a big mistake.
No one dares walk the streets along the East Bank Demerara communities, or in Georgetown, freely and openly.
These young people prowl late at nights to prey on anyone, on the East Bank. In Georgetown, they prowl day and night.
How did the East Bank Demerara and the capital city become such a social mess?
Everywhere else in this country looks so much more developed and safer.
Yet, the main artery into the country descends rapidly into chaos and a depressing social quagmire.
Who is responsible?
When a Party man and Government Minister could so blatantly abuse his power in public, and travel through this dense social mess, and still remain immune to the harsh reality on the streets, one wonders in astonishment.
Travelling in a chauffeur-driven air-conditioned vehicle and living in a nice house in a secluded, gated area could cause insensitivity of the conscience, especially by ignoring the stories in the independent media, or seeing those stories as “anti-government propaganda”. The land suffers. Generations fall through the cracks.
It’s disheartening to see that a new generation grew up to pillage and rob people on the streets. It’s disheartening to see 20 years of democracy and yet this nation is in such social chaos. It’s disheartening to see so many young men and women, strong and with so much potential, become wasted human beings.
Alcohol abuse, drug use, family dysfunction – all these societal maladies afflict the East Bank Demerara and Central Georgetown communities, not as small sub-cultures, but affecting the entire society.
But even the state of the roadways, including the main road and the “four lane highway” in the Eccles area, and the dilapidated buildings lining the roadway, make for a devastating picture of this land.
The country needs an urgent emergency plan of action to upgrade this main artery of the country.
The development of the East Bank Demerara and Central Georgetown area ought to take immediate priority, if this nation is to start the process of re-building its self-image, and its public image.
In the year 2011, with the country a firm member of a global community, it becomes inexcusable to allow the physical and socio-economic depression to continue.
The area reflects poor governance, uncaring leadership, and an insensitive social conscience.
When the main artery of the body politic looks and feels so sick and tired, the heart of the country suffers unbearable pain and devastation.
One solution is for the Private Sector Commission, or some civic group of such stature, to draft a plan of action and lead a development initiative for the East Bank Demerara and Central Georgetown area.
It would make a world of difference, both for the citizens of this land who live here, and for people travelling to experience and do business in and with Guyana and Guyanese.
Only when the East Bank Demerara and Central Georgetown corridor sees development akin to the Berbice Bridge could this nation boast that it has moved ahead from the dark days of gross under-development.
This corridor demands urgent emergency action.
This writer could be contacted by email at email@example.com