An open letter to New Amsterdam – it is time for change. Time to do it right

The Esplanade in New Amsterdam is a disgrace, with a shameful garbage dump, not a solid waste landfill, next to it. The drainage system is in ruins. The streets are in good condition, but not a single street has been reconstructed or rehabilitated by the Town Council; every single street that has been reconstructed has been done under the Central or Regional Government. The New Amsterdam Market is in a dilapidated state, stinky and a sad sight. The New Amsterdam Town Hall is a national heritage, but unless something is done very soon, it might very well collapse. The playgrounds and other recreational areas have become almost unusable. The basketball court needs urgent care. The Vryman’s Erven playground is overgrown. Angoy’s Avenue continues to be a reminder of the PNC’s wickedness and neglect. Everywhere one looks around the town, there are heaps of garbage, with residents forced to pay privately for garbage pick-ups. The Town Council picks up garbage sometimes once per year. In 2014, the Town Council collected $66M in property taxes. In 2018, courtesy of a 100% tax increase, the Council collected more than $150M. Where has all the money gone?
David Granger once promised New Amsterdam that it would be the focal point for development in Regions 5 and 6. But what did they deliver, other than wild promises? In 2018, the PNC-dominated Town Council raised property taxes by 100%, at a time when New Amsterdam saw an almost 50% decrease in business because of the 2016 closure of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate. This was part of the almost 200 new or increased taxes introduced to burden the Guyanese people by either the PNC-led Central Government or the PNC-led Towns in Guyana. If it were not for the then Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, and the PPP, the taxes in New Amsterdam and other towns and the seventy NDCs around the country would have been even more catastrophic. In 2018, the then Minister of Local Government, Ronald Bulkan, announced that the PNC-led Government had contracted a Canadian firm to reassess property values across Guyana, starting with New Amsterdam, in order to reform property taxation in an exercise that would have resulted in property taxes increasing by hundreds of percentage points. The PPP stopped the wicked plan of the PNC.
The PNC has done nothing for New Amsterdam in more than six decades, but chose New Amsterdam to increase taxes by 100%, and then chose New Amsterdam as the place where they wanted to reassess property values to increase taxes even more. These are the people who will now come to you to ask you for your votes. The time has come to say to them: “After so many decades, we want to do it right by choosing a government for New Amsterdam that will change New Amsterdam, to have an Esplanade and Stelling Road that provide high-quality family entertainment and leisure playparks. It is time to remove the garbage dump, to stop the floods with desilted concrete drains and pump stations in Vryman’s Erven and Stanleytown. The youths in New Amsterdam deserve a high-quality boxing gym; a reinvigorated basketball court; a football ground; traffic lights in strategic locations; a rehabilitated, modernised Town Hall, and many other transformative developments.
Walking through the streets of New Amsterdam these days, the town is buzzing with a call for change. A face-to-face meeting with Ms. Barbara Pilgrim was revealing. She has switched political affiliation from the PNC to the PPP. She was not so long ago a PNC Mayor of the proud Town of New Amsterdam. She was also, for a brief period after the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018, a PNC MP in Parliament. She is today adamant that New Amsterdam needs a change. Ms. Pilgrim wants to see major reforms and a transformation of her town. She believes that, under the PNC, New Amsterdam will continue to decay and be ruined. In her estimation, the only reason New Amsterdam is not worse today is because the PPP Government keeps rescuing it.
She and other former PNC activists believe it is time the PPP be given a chance in New Amsterdam. Walking along Winkle Road on Sunday last, several staunch PNC activists came out and declared they agree with Pilgrim. Deep in Tucber, a stronghold of the PNC, a former PNC activist came out and loudly proclaimed, “We must do it right this time”. New Amsterdam is the home of writers, professionals, sportsmen and women, successful business people, but is underdeveloped because of the PNC. On June 12th, the residents of New Amsterdam will have an opportunity to choose change.
New Amsterdam this year will celebrate its 74th anniversary as a town. Between 1949 and 1957, the New Amsterdam Town Council was under the control of persons who later joined Forbes Burnham and the PNC. Since 1957, New Amsterdam has been firmly controlled by the PNC. The Town Council refuses to work with a Central Government that has shown its commitment to the people of New Amsterdam. The PNC-led Mayor and Town Council of New Amsterdam are loyal to the PNC, not to the people of New Amsterdam. When, in 2006, Bharrat Jagdeo went to lead a development plan for Angoy’s Avenue, the then Mayor angrily told the President to butt out and leave Angoy’s Avenue alone.
Really, it is time for change New Amsterdam. On June 12th, do it right.