Reading Freddie Kissoon’s column today (Kaieteur News, 23/6/18) on the inaccessibility and deplorable condition of the Le Repentir Cemetery, especially during heavy rainfall, one gets the impression that it is the central government that is responsible for the maintenance of the cemetery in Georgetown and therefore, by extension, all the cemeteries in municipal and rural Guyana.
This raises the question about the role and responsibilities of the Municipal and Local Government authorities for these essential common services. I was always under the impression that such services were the sole responsibility of local government as opposed to central government. (In this context, I am reminded of my days in the sugar industry when the management of the estates assumed the responsibility of allocating the land for separate burial grounds for Hindus, Muslims and Christians, and their maintenance, in every estate community).
It is no secret that the vast majority of burial grounds all over Guyana are in a deplorable condition; indeed, one is tempted to categorise them as being “dangerous,” having regard to the number of reported incidents of mourners being stung by deadly ‘African’ bees.
A decent, safe, accessible and respectable place for the disposal of our deceased families and friends is an unavoidable responsibility of any civilised community. In the same way that such civic responsibilities as the collection of garbage, provision of potable water and electricity, etc. have been devolved to the central and local government, it is necessary that they also assume the responsibility for the proper disposal of the deceased. I believe taxes are collected for such services.
Having regard to the many factors involved, I also wish to point out the relevance of crematoria as opposed to, or in addition to burial grounds per se. I believe that we should also cater for the establishment of a crematorium in every district; they are easier to maintain and guarantee accessibility and convenience.