During the festive season I hosted family from the Rupununi, including three kids. I tried my best to take them sightseeing to the popular locations around the city which are amenable to the interests of kids. The almost non-stop rains made it impossible to take them to main venues like the zoo and National Park. I soon ran out of ideas and racked my brains for other possible activities for three energetic kids who were cooped up in the house for far too long.
It then struck me that the seawall bandstand with its open space and kids games was an ideal location to spend an evening. So on a rare occasion when the rains subsided, we all loaded into our transportation and headed off for an evening of fun.
As we pulled up to the bandstand we immediately noticed a change. The place was completely empty and in almost total darkness. We sat in stunned silence as we weighed the options available to us ‒ return home or risk the darkness so the kids can have a breezing out. The kids ultimately made the decision as they were hell bent on releasing their pent-up energy.
So with extreme reservations, we disembarked and proceeded to the section with the chairs. There were quite a few other people at the location. We could not decipher whether they were friend or foe! But, like us, they all seemed drawn to the venue which is famed for its feeling of freedom and carefree abandon.
In between the incessant questions from the kids about the sea, ships and lights, my partner and I mused about what made such a popular public location now look like a graveyard. We did all this while keeping a wary eye out for the criminals whom, we read, roamed the seawalls and pounced on unsuspecting victims.
Eventually, caution got the better of me and we decided to cut the evening short despite vehement protests from the kids who, understandably, felt short changed.
Like so many other things of recent in Guyana, I wondered where is the vision for our country when one of the very few public locations for children is suddenly closed? Was it from lack of business for the vendors? Was it inability to pay the electricity bill? I wondered aloud that if government finds money for many other inconsequential things then certainly they can find funding to keep the seawall bandstand alive.
Then the moment of clarity on this situation arrived a few days later with Freddie Kissoon’s article titled ‘I sat next to the accused minister’, KN, January 1, 2018. And with that explanation followed rage and indignation.
How dare the Minister allegedly endanger the lives of citizens in such a callous manner? If he is alleged to have a grouse with vendors (and heck, they offer a service to the public, a service which the government has been woefully short of providing) then there should be no way that the public becomes embroiled.
So much could have gone wrong that evening when I took my family to the seawall only to find complete darkness. We could have been robbed, or worse. The kids could have injured themselves. Why? All because of a Minister’s alleged whim? Is the honourable minister so out of touch with reality?
At a minimum, the Minister should have made a public announcement to inform of the new happenings around the seawall bandstand. That way the public can be forewarned. But even such a decision would not take away the extreme shallowness of such decision-making. For the seawall bandstand is a very popular public venue, especially for children, which the Minister should be doing his utmost to preserve not destroy.
I sincerely hope that there will be enough public outpouring on this issue that the Minister will see the shortsightedness of his decision. He also needs to be upbraided for risking the public in such a manner.
Finally, a word of thanks to Mr Freddie Kissoon for keeping the public abreast on issues which the government seems to have no interest in highlighting.