I know that, rightly so, most decent-minded citizens are now concerned about the shocking execution of Mr Crum-Ewing. However, I wish to bring another matter to the attention of the authorities.
In the afternoon of the day before yesterday, I employed a young man who offered to clean the drain in front of my property. (I initially hesitated since there seemed to be no point to cleaning a waterway that will forever remain blocked to the immediate and distant east and west of the cleaned area.) I asked him to take the weeds across the Public Road on to the parapet adjacent to the seawall. I explained that this will ensure that it is picked up by a Ministry of Works truck. After he had placed about six loads there, he reported to me that a man stopped and told him not to do that. He said the man was in a suit, in a car – no doubt to indicate that this was not someone to be ignored.
Men in suits do not intimidate me. In fact, I welcome the opportunity to interface with them, since they are usually persons with power to make things happen. But since the suit had already gone his way, I told my helper to pile the stuff on the parapet at the side of the public road in front of my yard, and I would see whether the garbage truck would agree to move it next Monday.
Not long after, I saw a young man gesticulating angrily. I went out to find out what was the matter. He said he was from the Ministry of Culture and responsible for keeping the seawall area clean, and demanded that my helper immediately remove what he had placed on the seawall parapet or he would take his photograph, find him, get the police on him, make sure he was charged, and fined $50,000. I explained repeatedly, that the stuff from the trench was placed there at my direction and that if any picture was to be taken, it should be my picture; if any police should be called and any charge made, it should be on me, since the person he was threatening had acted on my instructions. I also explained that I had advised that the weeds be placed on the seawall embankment, because that is the only place from which the Ministry of Works picks up stuff. Although he was not disrespectful towards me; he refused to listen, and continued to act menacingly to my helper, and photographed him, although I undertook to have the debris removed from the seawall parapet – which I did.
This incident is particularly worrying, because although happily, there was absolutely no hint of race being a factor, and it was good to see a young man being environmentally militant, his offensiveness towards a peer, a fellow youth trying to earn an honest living, even after he was told that the young employee was blameless, was and is disturbing. I need to emphasize that at no point did he try to bully me and in fact went out of his way to assure me in his own way of the esteem he had for me. But that he should use whatever power and authority he had or thought he had, against another youth, a mild-mannered person who at no point engaged him, is very troubling. It reinforces my view that the aggressive and undignified attitudes and behaviours being modelled by persons in the public eye are being replicated by young people as though they are acceptable, justifiable, and worthy behaviours. In addition to this observation, this letter is intended to achieve a number of objectives:
(1) To indicate to the authorities that I take full responsibility for having temporarily placed weeds from the trench in front of my home onto the parapet adjacent to the seawall. In the interest of full disclosure, I also admit to having caused this to happen on an earlier occasion, with a different helper. So maybe, there should be two charges. Older citizens may recall that under a past administration I had been charged for depositing garbage on the bridge of the then Deputy Mayor of Georgetown as the only place where I could be sure that M&CC would be picking it up.
(2) To enquire when the Ministry of Works (I was pleasantly surprised to hear of the involvement of the Ministry of Culture in the removal of garbage from the Subryanville seawall area) will be removing my now legally placed trench weeds on the southern side of the Public Road.
(3) To enquire from the Ministry of Works when it will be replacing the two bins (just west of Sheriff Street junction) erected by the civic-minded Bounty Farm company. On two occasions I spoke to workers who were removing the bins (on one occasion, they actually mashed up a good bin and threw it in their truck) and they assured me when I protested that they will be replaced. I have been using those bins consistently, since the days of the open-air seawall disco that authorities weakly and weekly allowed to pollute the environment with unbearable stereo sounds and garbage. I do mind picking up other people’s garbage outside my yard, but did it, and continue to do it; but I draw the line at bringing it into my yard. I am now wondering whether these particular bins were removed to prevent me from using them. I have ceased wondering if the drains in my community and other worse-off communities will be cleaned by those responsible for Guyana’s drainage.
(4) To remind those who know, and since we don’t teach these things, to educate those who don’t know, that the government we elect at national, regional, municipal, and village levels is responsible for improving the well-being of people; for protecting the resources of the people; and for meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to have their needs met. This is what good governance is about. And good governance means there must be accountability. Accountability helps to prevent the abuse of power by persons who hold positions of trust and authority. The three principles underlying and ensuring accountability are key; they are transparency, disclosure, and redress. These are basic governance standards that all citizens should expect to be met – in connection with all matters.