Earlier this month I was walking through an area in Queens, New York, which is inhabited mostly by Guyanese immigrants and their families. I was most impressed by the complete absence of garbage on the streets, as well as the drains and well-kept lawns. The entire surrounding was indeed a joy to behold, especially with the manicured lawns, lovely flowers and clean cars parked in an obviously well-disciplined manner. I also saw the signpost (see below); it made me wonder to what extent the severity of the fine for dumping (US$20,000) and/or the offer of a reward for reporting dumpers might be responsible for the cleanliness that was so strikingly evident.
As I continued my walk my mind raced to the scenes of wanton garbage disposal back home in Guyana and more especially the mind-boggling sights along the streets on which I usually walk in the mornings whenever I overnight at Enmore, East Coast Demerara. Here, my morning walks take me past a signpost which is surrounded by garbage.
Some striking features of the signpost at Enmore include the fact that the fine of $10,000 is minuscule compared with the US$20,000 fine shown in the NY sign, and there is no financial incentive for conscientious Guyanese citizens to report callous dumpers. Furthermore, the Enmore signpost is just around the corner from the Enmore Police Station, virtually under the noses and in the faces of the policemen. This is particularly relevant having regard to the point made by another letter writer last week who quoted copiously from relevant legislation which empowers the police to apprehend dumpers, and the courts to impose fines and other deterrents.
While I have used the negative Enmore scene as a contrast with the situation in New York just to make a point, let me clarify that based on my travels across Guyana, the Enmore scene is by no means unique; it is undoubtedly a reflection of what obtains throughout our beloved but apparently bewitched “dear land of Guyana”! Indeed, I have seen, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, garbage strewn and piled up high just under the warning signs like the Enmore one. I have no doubt that other compatriots have seen similar or worse cases across our coastland and cities.
Sometimes the ‘big stick’ as in New York and as is provided for in our environmental protection legislation is the only deterrent. Enforcement is obviously necessary. Notwithstanding, I wish to encourage all our school teachers, our parents and all civic minded citizens to continue to do whatever each of us can do to achieve the attitudinal metamorphosis necessary to raise a new generation of citizens who will instinctively, naturally balk at the thought of dumping garbage callously.