Over the last two and a half years the Mon Repos/La Reconnaissance Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) has worked to improve its capacity to provide essential services by purchasing several pieces of necessary equipment and this effort seems to have paid off with several residents saying they are satisfied with the work they have seen done.
“Right now we are poised to deliver services in a more efficient manner because of the equipment we have bought. Works no longer have to be tendered. In tendering we have found that the cost is often twice what it would’ve cost us to do it ourselves so we have focused on getting the equipment,” NDC Chair Ayube Mohamed explained to Stabroek News.
Mohammed noted that rate collection in the NDC has for the last two years averaged around 70%, monies which have not been enough to do everything that needs doing but enough to make a difference.
In 2016 the council collected $30 million in rates, 73% of the $41 million it would have collected if all households had paid the $5,000 per annum charged within the NDC. In 2017 the collection rate dropped to 68% and so far for 2018 it is circling 45%.
“We are hoping to get it up to 65% by end of the year which is when most persons seem to pay their rates,” Mohamed explained.
He also noted that the council has come a long way since 2016.
“We have had some false starts as many of us were inexperienced but almost immediately we recognized that garbage was not being collected and we made that a priority,” he noted.
That year the council spent $4 million on a garbage truck to supplement the old tractor and trailer which was already working to collect garbage in the NDC.
Mohamed noted that they were able to get a discount of $500,000 on the cost of the truck which though “it’s not very big does the work.”
With this truck and the tractor the council has been able to free itself from private contractors as it is now able to collect garbage across every constituency.
When Stabroek News visited the NDC, residents reported that they were content with both the garbage collection and maintenance of drainage infrastructure.
“They collect the garbage every week and the drain is cleaned at least once a month,” a carpenter in Mon Repos who asked not to be named explained.
Mohamed further explained that the NDC took the initiative to clean the market and have started collecting garbage from there every single day.
“The Market has its own budget so it pays us $40,000 a month to pick up garbage. It’s not enough but it helps us offer collection services to residential areas free of cost,” he said.
Following their efforts in garbage collection the council in 2017 moved on to the clearing of drains.
“We recognized that there was a need to clear and clean the drains but we couldn’t afford to do it regularly. When we tendered for it the lowest bid was around $5.8 million so we decided to buy an excavator,” Mohamed explained.
He noted that while in keeping with procurement regulations the NDC tendered for the excavator through the Regional Democratic Council the machine was in the end sole-sourced because only General Equipment Guyana Ltd (Genequip) had one that size at the time.
Consequently in December 2017 the council spent $13.1 million on a mini-excavator but that was not their last acquisition as only last week a new tractor was added to the old one which was refurbished.
“We did all this with the little we have collected,” he stressed noting that the works have led to more co-operation from NDC residents.
“We did a lot of cleaning in Martyrsville in Annandale which though it is one of the first areas settled on the East Coast didn’t have clear roads and drains. So we went in to put in Roads and Drains. A lot of people there were not paying rates because someone told them that if they weren’t getting services they shouldn’t pay rates. That’s not how it works the rates allow us to provide services,” Mohamed stressed.
He noted that the next step is to work on road repairs.
“We are looking to source a Hydraulic Dump Trailer which along with an old bobcat mini-excavator should help in road repairs but in the near future we are hoping to deploy the mini-excavator on matting so that it can clean some alleyways which are not easy to access,” he stressed.
Additionally he noted that the NDC is sending out their works committee to check and see where unregistered commercial activity is taking place.
“In the past there was a lot of Hodge-Podge so many of these persons don’t have or don’t know they need to have permission from the Central Housing and Planning Authority to use residential land for commercial purposes. We have already sent out some notices and are hoping at the level of the NDC to facilitate their CH&PA application as long as we have no objections,” he explained.
Mohamed’s testimony and that of the residents who spoke with Stabroek News left no doubt that in the last two years the NDC has worked. In fact the newspaper observed that garbage is collected and drains are cleared yet its neighbourhoods are unlikely to win any cleanliness awards.
Piles of garbage could be seen next to recently desilted drains while empty garbage receptacles are steps away from burning garbage mounds and the Mon Repos market continues to be an assault on the olfactory and visual senses of passersby. As in several other NDCs visited while the NDC appears to be making an effort residents are less than diligent in their care of the environment.