On the morning of June 5, while I was cleaning my parapet, I observed men and women clothed in protective gear clearing the entrance to Merriman Mall, which over time has become the dumpsite for people living in or outside Bourda. They told me that they were assigned to the NDIA. Whilst conversing with them, it was brought to my attention that amongst the debris, they were confronted with faeces, undergarments and condoms, among other things. I empathized with them, being cognizant of the fact that they are human beings, just like those who exhibit an uncaring attitude towards their fellow human beings.
Whilst standing observing the operation, a vehicle with law enforcement officers drove by and threw garbage from the vehicle into the path of the workers. The workers became very disgruntled at this callous behaviour since they are the ones who ought to be setting an example.
The landscape of that entire area has changed drastically over the last few years. As a child Merriman Mall served as a recreational facility for myself and siblings, and I recall the child friendly amenities in place there. During Easter and other festivals, we all congregated on the mall where kites were flown. The elderly would take their afternoon stroll there, and the little ones with mom or dad were brought to the mall to have fun, either playing football, cricket or riding. Today, the scenery is totally different from what I alluded to earlier. Now as an adult and still a resident of Bourda, I can say that Merriman Mall no longer allows for the young and not so young to go and enjoy an atmosphere where they can relax and have outdoor games.
The Mayor and City Council for some time now has been experiencing major financial woes, and has not been able to collect the rates and taxes in a timely manner in order to maintain the city.
Nevertheless, over the past few weeks a number of areas have been cleared of their garbage, which in my view is a good way to start. The big question is sustainability. When all is done, what measures have been put in place to maintain the situation? I recall that a couple of years ago, the Mayor and City Council had embarked on an operation whereby city policemen rode around the city, and once persons were seen disposing of garbage in areas where this was prohibited, they would be apprehended and charged. In the Bourda area after it became known that Merriman Mall was being used as a dumping site, city policemen were deployed at night in civilian clothing to monitor the area. Today, there is no evidence of these noble men. Can the administrators say why this has ceased? In my opinion, this task force should be resuscitated, so as to ensure that garbage is not dumped.
Guyana with rest of the world celebrated World Environment Day on June 5, under the theme, ‘Eat, Think and Save.’ I guess a number of readers will concur with me that the current state of our environment does not fit the theme.
With our environment in this unsightly state, our major concern should be the impact on our health. There are all kinds of dangers from the decomposition of inorganic wastes. From all indications, it seems as though those guilty of dumping refuse around the city do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. At every vacant lot, garbage dumpsites emerge. A classic example is the recently demolished St Barnabas Church on Regent Street Bourda, where there is an existing school. That area has now become a dumpsite. On High Street opposite the Trinity Methodist Church on the western side, there is a vacant lot, which has now become a dumping site for refuse. The corner of East and Quamina Streets, on the shoulders of the road, has now become another location for the collection of garbage. Noticeably in that area, on the poles, there are signs indicating to persons where they should dispose of garbage. I applaud the person(s) for such initiative. There is need for continuous public awareness on garbage disposal and its impact on the environment. The shoulders of some roadways have become dumping sites, eg, Church Street Bourda, Mandela Avenue, and Hunter Street Albouystown.
We must ensure that our communities are healthy. With this said, rather than waiting on government and the responsible authority to improve the outlook of our communities, the onus lies on us citizens to enhance them.
Publicly, I would like to commend the residents of Beverley Close, South Ruimveldt Park for their collective effort in clearing their area. As I traversed it during the weekend of May 27, 2013, I observed that they were assisted by inmates from the Guyana Prison Service; they weeded the shoulders of the parapet, the drains were dug and work was done on the surface of the road. Similar activities could be undertaken; all it calls for is cohesion amongst residents and dedication. One community can make a difference once the application of our country’s motto stands out, ‘One people, one nation, one destiny.’
In concluding, I would like to quote the inspiring words of the late Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”