Many areas in the capital have shrunk to the peril of pedestrians

Dear Editor,

I read the story under the caption ‘City Engineer meets with inspectors to improve processing of building plans’ (SN Jan 23).  My first reactions were to roll eyes and shake head.  Then, remembering my self-imposed “New Disposition” I was encouraged. Guardedly. Some excerpts from this news item may help.

It was “noted that building works are being carried out… including some which have breached requirements for specified boundaries…”  That was the City Engineer himself.  Now listen to the council: “…alleyways and other thoroughfares such as roads, parapets and road shoulders are unfairly appropriated…”  And further, that “…thoroughfares in these communities belong to residents of the communities and no one has the right to take over such facility without the consent, or fiat of the council…”  I think all of this is just splendid, and if enforced would be a balm for frayed nerves and sore feet.  Now I must make some pointed comments, and ask a hard question or two.  I do not expect any responses.

Many areas (too many) in this once pristine capital city have shrunk, to the peril of travellers, and none more so than pedestrians.  It could be Queenstown, Lacytown, or Cummingsburg.  It is Wellington and Camp and Light Streets, among others.  How was this allowed to occur in broad daylight? And why do they continue to stand?  I make no insinuation as to inducement or incentive or skullduggery.  What I will say is that, in total, these brazen extensions and encroachments represent a rather whimsical and arbitrary application of standards and statutes.  The City Engineer, the buildings department, the council, and maybe the entire mayoralty may be offended by who I associate them with next.  But I must.

There was a one time minister cum diplomat, who stood out as an epitome of law-abiding impeccability. He pronounced rather merrily, but seriously, on the hoped for degeneration of the health condition of the citizens of this city.  It is my belief that all those M&CC groups identified in the preceding paragraph are in danger of being lumped with him. Like that fine gentleman, they too have decided on the health of citizens.  Except that they went further: they have actually sanctioned (or done nothing) while the sidewalks have disappeared and the actual roadways have narrowed.  Limb and life of pedestrians are threatened daily, since they have no other place to walk, other than in the path of motorized traffic.

The City Engineer et al know of all of this. If they don’t, then they should. Now the rest of the long-suffering populace – those without voice, connection, or capital – watch and wait to see what follows.  In passing, I remember as a child that Sandbach Parker and Guyana Gajraj housed their fare inside the glass and away from the street.  Gimpex did so, too; of course, that was when the law was observed, and consideration and respect ruled the day.  That was then, this is now.

Other citizens might be comforted.  As for myself, call me cynical, doubting Thomas, or anything less complimentary.  I will believe when I see.

Yours faithfully,
GHK Lall


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