The city’s contracted garbage collectors are expected to resume work in all communities today, after receiving outstanding payments in full, according to Mayor and City Council (M&CC) spokesman Royston King.
“We are very thankful to the citizens who did not get involved in illegal dumping in spite of our shortcomings as a municipality and to those who indulged in such acts, we wish to encourage them to spare a thought for the environment and the health of the community in which they live,” King said, during a telephone interview with this newspaper yesterday.
He reiterated that the council’s inability to collect garbage was no reason for illegal dumping.
The council has received the promised money from the government but King was unable to say when exactly these funds were handed over and also if all has been given or if it will be paid in instalments. However, the funds, he said, facilitated payments to contractors as well as the city’s workers. “We have been tardy with our obligation to them but that was due to the financial crisis we were facing,” he explained.
President Bharrat Jagdeo recently approved $80M in rates and taxes to be paid to the council, bringing government’s rate payments up to date to the end of the third quarter of 2011. In addition, a further $120M was approved to help meet the municipality’s outstanding liabilities and to accelerate its efforts to keep the city clean. A further $15M was approved for the purposes of cleaning up Le Repentir cemetery.
Le Repentir restoration
When asked about the restoration of Le Repentir Cemetery, King said that he could not speak on that issue as he has not yet seen the programme.
Meanwhile, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Robeson Benn said that work commenced a month ago. He said that an excavator has since been there cleaning the canals and clearing the trails on the western side. Much of the vegetation, Benn further noted, has been cleared out.
When Stabroek News spoke to Project Engineer Lloyda Rollins, this newspaper was told that the Ministry of Public Works has already received the funds that will be used to restore the cemetery. She said that the main access road, from Vlissengen Road to St. Stephen’s Street, is finished while the road closer to Princes Street is almost complete. The third road, near Sussex Street, she said, is half completed.
Also, work is currently ongoing on the crossroads throughout the cemetery.
Rollins noted that they will be purchasing equipment to aid in cutting down the trees and clearing the vegetation. She recalled that sometime last year the bushes were cleared by prisoners, but they have since grown back. Again, prisoners will be working in the cemetery along with volunteers.
With a reasonable workforce, she said, work will be well underway, but she was unable to say how soon they will be finished with the restoration project. “We cannot do the entire cemetery all at once… we have to do it in blocks and according to M&CC, there are seven blocks,” she explained.
Rollins said that they intend to catch the bees from the estimated 200 colonies believed to be there, cut down the trees, spray the vegetation and then have them removed.
This newspaper was previously informed that the committee will work to have broken tombs repaired but Rollins said yesterday that this is not yet a sure thing as they are looking at the funds that have been made available.