The Minister of Communities Mr Ronald Bulkan has announced March 18, 2016 as the date for the much anticipated and long overdue local government elections. Incidentally, would the elections be renamed the ‘Elections of Communities’?
There are insurmountable challenges that confront the Anna Regina Town Council of Region 2 in discharging its civic and constitutional responsibilities to its constituents. Several contentious areas of concern need to be addressed expeditiously, including garbage collection and disposal, vending, the cleaning of parapets and drains, littering, the dismantling of derelict buildings and the poor state of the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground. Nothing of significance seems to have been done, and with the intervention of the usual bureaucracy, the regular turnover of an already understaffed council, poor rate collection and a lack of morale, the council is rendered ineffective. It has a voice, but no tongue!
I have a special interest in the development of the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground which is the Region’s premier sporting facility. For far too long it has been neglected, even though it remains an attractive venue for cultural and other events. This facility has the potential to provide the council with an identity in terms of innovation, social cohesion, multiculturalism, revenue collection, and the prudent management of resources. It can also serve to advance sports development in various disciplines. I yearn for the day when a social partnership can be realized whereby members of the public along with athletes can embrace the facility on a daily basis, creating an atmosphere identical to other grounds across the country such as Everest, GCC, DCC or even GNIC. Why not invest in this ground once and for all, so that it can host the national athletics championships in the future as well as inter-county cricket tournaments, and Kashif and Shanghai football matches, among other sporting spectacles. Anna Regina Town is in need of such activities, and the ground is ideally located to be transformed into a dynamic sporting entity that can collectively serve both the private and public interest. A unique opportunity beckons for the new mayor to rise beyond the shadows of his predecessors.
The imminent elections therefore will be an ideal testing ground for the electorate to duly elect responsible, proven and conscientious members to serve on the new council. A fresh approach and a new concept of community governance are required, thus enabling a faltering council to be injected with new life, from a confident and industrious mayor to an equally responsive and meticulous security guard. I sense the excitement now, similar to what I previously experienced almost two decades ago when the late headmistress Miss Etwaria Kumar was elected as the first Mayor of Anna Regina Town. She had all the qualities that made a difference then, and the town prospered. Perhaps insularity crept in as elected or selected officials felt that they were no longer held accountable, or perhaps governmental interference was too heavy-handed for the council to grow institutionally.
It is imperative therefore that an attentive society places direct emphasis on ensuring that they receive quality service by voting in distinguished servants whose performance will vindicate their choice. The next Mayor of Anna Regina therefore should usher in a new era of hope with a creditable performance in what is now a dormant town. This may come to pass on election day and beyond.