In Wednesday’s edition, Stabroek News quoted the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Agency (GRA), Khurshid Sattaur, as comparing the rehabilitation of the avenue in Camp Street with the current work undertaken by the Chinese contractor, Bai Shan Lin. I can’t quite follow his train of thought. My father conceived and spearheaded the Camp Street 2000 project. However he could not have completed it without the support and participation of the local community. The project took several months to plan (with the invaluable assistance of local experts such as the architect Albert Rodrigues and the engineer Bert Carter). The steering committee consulted the residents along Camp Street for their views and support and there was an extended and exhausting period of fundraising. The appropriate permissions were sought and the project’s accounts were audited on completion. Thanks to the dedication of a few gentlemen, the avenue is still cleaned and maintained regularly, thirteen years later. This was a community project initiated, funded and organised by residents and local businesses.
The arrangement between Bai Shan Lin and the GRA is of an entirely different order. One might have assumed that when the GRA initially planned to move its offices, adequate and proximate parking for its employees and customers would have been designated a priority in the selection of a new location. Is the construction of a parking lot several blocks away from the new offices simply a hasty attempt to remedy this omission, this failure to plan ahead? Parking lots are not generally celebrated for their aesthetic value. Will it enhance the views or the property values of those residents on Lamaha Street who look out onto it? Were they consulted? Were their views and participation sought? Will they have access to the parking facilities? Is this initiative indicative of a general policy now to construct parking lots on scarce greenfield sites around the city?
The conception, design and execution of the parking lot under construction on Lamaha Street is indicative of a quite different set of values, priorities and approaches from those that inspired the Camp Street 2000 project.
Isabelle de Caires