Since leaving my beloved Guyana, our Garden City, in the year 1971, and during my short term visits to Georgetown in the following years, I enjoyed visiting the Promenade Gardens in Middle Street, where the multi-coloured flowers and its quietness brought a peacefulness to my pensive soul.
My current visit has been my longest stay in Guyana, and I have been walking around Georgetown on many occasions. To my surprise, the once clean city that I remembered as a boy and young man, was a shock to my wellbeing; the drains and alleyways are totally blocked up with overgrown bushes, plastic bottles, cups and food containers, and the water is stagnant and nauseating.
During the past two weeks, I have been going to the seawall to do my morning exercises. I remember this area being so emblematic and an icon to all visitors and Guyanese alike.
Now, from Vlissingen Road to the band stand is littered with plastic cups, old tree trunks, old refrigerators, old tyres and other miscellaneous rubbish. But what is more pathetic is that the food vendors that are installed in the area, are dumping their litter on the other side of the seawall’s shore line, among the rocks and sea defence.
Many questions flooded my mind as I stood to contemplate the rushing waves that brought back so many good memories of the beach where, as a teenager, we played soccer, cricket, and swam to our heart’s delight, not worrying about any litter in the area.
Who is responsible for the maintenance of the seawall’s surroundings? Is there some agreement by the municipal council and the food vendors to maintain the area free of litter? Do the vendors pay a tax to the municipal council? Who is to blame for the disaster being committed to our ecosystem? In any event, there should be a meaningful participation and collaboration by all parties involved to upkeep the area surrounding the seawall and keep it free of litter.
Presenting complaints without a solution serve no purpose unless accompanied by a workable solution that can reverse or reduce the problem. We can be a part of the problem or a part of the solution. We have a choice. During my many walks in Georgetown, I transited downtown (Main Street avenue) and was really contented to see this area well kept. However, on the pavement on the southern side of Guyana Stores, formerly Bookers Stores, there are many indigents laying around the store during all hours of the day, posing a threat to passersby and tourists that visit Georgetown. These young men do not enhance the beauty of the well-kept zone.
Another area that is even worse is the Regent Road, Bourda market zone. There are many more indigents who prostrate themselves on cardboard sheets in front of an old cemetery, hindering the passage of pedestrians. They even do their human necessities without any pulchritude, openly in the surrounding areas.
Why can’t the Government do something about these indigents? These young, able-bodied men can be used to do something beneficial for themselves and society. With proper supervision and collaboration from the business sector, who sell products in plastic containers, these young men can be incorporated to clean up the seawall and its surroundings, and eventually the city, motivating them adequately and orienting them towards rehabilitation.
Also what is needed is a civic consciousness not to litter. The famous Mexican comedian, Cantinflas, in the film Barrenderos (street cleaners), said a city is not clean because we clean more, it is because the people litter less.
With the collection of all plastics, the Government can create a project to recycle them into something useful for the city. In Europe, all plastics collected are sent to a deposit for recycling, where a solvent is applied and an epoxy added to make seats for benches in the parks. With this, wood is eliminated. Plastic lasts a lifetime.
Less plastics to block up drains and trenches.
A cleaner Seawall and City environment.
City tourism can be promoted.
Indigents taken off the streets and undergoing a process of rehabilitation.
Meaningful participation of the general public and businesses to keep the city clean.
Let us put our efforts together to make Guyana the Garden City that we once knew.
(Name and address supplied)