Unnamed and unsigned streets are the priority, not renaming

Dear Editor,

It is a fact, albeit easily overlooked by the relevant authorities, that the whole (suburban) area of Sophia, famous for its exhibitions, has not been officially incorporated into the city of Georgetown. This may be one reason why this ‘community’ is still identified with ‘fields’ and ‘sections’ accessed by under-engineered roads which remain nameless, and which provide no direction to either the postlady (no longer postman) or the visitor, while residents exist in a permanent state of disorientation. The only officials who are likely to be somewhat familiar with the territory would be the Guyana Police Force (GPF), and of course the working population of Guyana Power and Light Ltd (GPL) next door.

Never mind the darkness which overcomes the street immediately separating Sophia from the more upscale Prashad Nagar neighbourhood, where a majority of residents have learnt of their own home addresses by hearsay.

There are too few signs indicating the names of streets there. So when one asks the taxi service to attend a call in Ganges Street the driver is usually in a swim to find the location. Sachibazaar Street is not spelt out anywhere. It is better identified by the mosque which is located at its eastern end.

But it is still easier than finding Durabana Square (mostly pronounced Durbana), particularly since drivers are forced to circle around it in search of a particular house lot. Too often they have to be redirected.

Entering or exiting, there simply is not a name plate to any of the streets in a neighbourhood that attracts foreign residents, however transient they may be.

Incidentally there are no longer postmen employed in the Guyana Post Office Corporation, and their female replacements, misclad in unprepossessing attire, euphemistically called ‘uniforms’, can be mistaken for tourists as they peddle or push bicycles (their heads covered by unseemly floppy straw hats intended to serve as umbrellas), searching determinedly for invisible lot numbers.

One must sometimes wonder how often and in how many communities, this scenario continues to be replicated.

All this must make it difficult to identify the significant proportion of the city’s many under-engineered and potholed roads (without adequate traffic signage) to call attention to the glaring absence of paved walkways so that pedestrians, and schoolchildren in particular, can be less exposed to the hazards of vehicular traffic dominated by untrained licensed drivers.

These are priorities needed to be addressed – to add value to the quality of life, unlike the re-naming of streets. The latter has implications not only for the postladies referred to, but the service as a whole is likely to become more confused by the inevitable inundation of mis-addresses.

The confusion is almost bound to be shared by such utility services as GPL, GWI, GT&T, not to mention businesses like banks, which must mail correspondence on a continual basis.

This portent for local chaos, however, would hardly match the bewilderment that is bound to be impacted upon overseas correspondents, whether official, domestic or business – in the process contradicting the tourist-friendly environment we boast of creating, and in which the taxi driver, ever unfamiliar with Lamaha Gardens, will have to wander with a wondering passenger!

More fundamental, however, is that peremptorily renaming streets would obliterate likely heritage significances of which we are unaware. The exercise in superficiality, if not futility, would improve nothing.

It was the Barbadian author, George Lamming who long ago observed: “There are men and women in the Caribbean who are so blinded by their own brilliance that they do not see the darkness through which they lead others.”

In short: blind alleys!

Yours faithfully,

E B John

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