As indicated in the media last Friday, the Social Protection Ministry will expend $60M on the ‘Palms’ in Georgetown, particularly to install “elevators at the Brickdam, Georgetown facility.”
Implicit in the report was that the elevators will more specifically serve the staff attached to the Palms by sparing them the effort of climbing the stairs connecting the three floors of the building in order to deliver laundry and food for the inmates.
We must compliment the government for trying to improve the working and living conditions of the staff and the inmates, but given the need to properly prioritize the expenditure of the limited taxpayer funds available, one is tempted to question the wisdom of providing more ‘sophisticated’ conditions for ‘privileged’ citizens in/around Georgetown when citizens in other locations, for example in/around New Amsterdam have no such facility.
As far as I know, the Dharam Shala in Berbice situated under the Canje bridge which connects New Amsterdam with the Corentyne coast is the only facility in Berbice that attempts to provide the kind of service available at the Palms in Georgetown.
However, this facility is in a most deplorable state; the yard is a bushy swamp surrounded by tall mangrove trees growing along the Canje Creek which overflows into the yard and provides a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes and reptiles.
The inmates sleep on cots sometimes with wet or without mattresses; those on the ground floor often step out of their cots onto wet floors in order to get to the dysfunctional toilets and/or the dining hall. Added to the constantly damp, bleak physical conditions is the constant noise and banging sounds from the steady 24-hour day and night traffic over the Canje Bridge which overhangs the dilapidated Dharam Shala structure.
Thanks are indeed due to the Ramsaroop family in Georgetown who have been assuming responsibility for the Dharam Shala over the many decades of its existence; thanks are also due to the countless other benevolent persons who have been making contributions and volunteering in other ways to keep the Dharam Shala going. However, their magnanimous efforts in maintaining the structure at its current location are now tantamount to throwing good money into a site and structure that has long hit rock bottom and is now unsalvageable.
The $60M earmarked for elevators at the Georgetown Palms might be all that is required to construct a Palms for Berbice in a more appropriate location; the old New Amsterdam Hospital site readily comes to mind; better still might be the open space available around the old Mental Hospital compound which is between the current Dharam Shala and the current New Amsterdam Hospital compound. I am personally prepared to work along with a team of Berbicians to raise any supplementary funds that may be required.
Over to the new Minister of Social Protection, who I think is a fellow Berbician!