Parking areas in downtown Georgetown that were specially prepared by the Police Traffic Department and designated for parking by minibuses plying various routes have been overrun by vendors plying their trade and private cars working as taxis, which, as a consequence, have created chaos and congestion in central areas in the city, as well as piles of garbage accumulated over time.
The garbage accumulation continues unabated, growing from little hillocks into mountainous piles of refuse, with no solution in sight. This appears to have started in 2014 as a deliberate attempt to derail the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s “Clean Up My Country” initiative.
Now, with insufficient space because of constrained parking allotments to park the buses for which the various areas were designated, bus drivers are forced to occupy areas not allotted for parking purposes, thereby creating traffic hazards and danger to pedestrians, as well as incurring the wrath of the Traffic Police.
Former Mayors Hamilton Green and Patricia Chase Green and City Councillors have, over decades, encouraged the lawlessness prevailing all over the city and its environs. Visitors come to this country to, among other things, enjoy our heritage sites, and a heap of garbage has accumulated just outside one of Guyana’s primary sight-seeing locations, specially promoted by the Tourism Ministry and tour operators – Stabroek Market.
This development is not only a public nuisance, but also constitutes a serious public health threat, with the attendant hazard of escalation of vector-borne and other serious diseases.
While the City Council condemns the business houses that are lax in paying their taxes, it simultaneously inhibits their businesses by allowing illegal vending outside the stores. This creates unfair competition, especially during special holidays and is wreaking havoc on the viability of legitimately-established businesses, because most vendors do not pay taxes, they have no overheads, are not subject to the various by-laws governing established trade, and worst of all, many create humongous garbage piles and litter that jam the waterways, with the consequence being an exacerbation in drainage problems in the city and its environs.
Georgetown has always fallen under the jurisdiction of the People’s National Congress (PNC), and from being the pride of Guyana as “The Garden City,” it has increasingly deteriorated, losing its pristine and idyllic environment. Because it has become a microcosm of the decay of Guyana under the PNC’s watch.
Political leaders have a duty and responsibility to encourage citizens to respect the laws of the land in the interest of their constituency, in particular, and the nation as a whole; and illegal vending breaches the city’s by-laws in a multiplicity of ways.
However, every time there is a governmental effort to find alternative accommodation for vendors, there is a hue and cry by political protagonists, who organise protests.
Successive PPP/C Governments intermittently pump millions of dollars into clean-up campaigns in the city, but as long as illegal vending prevails, Georgetown would always remain a “garbage city”.
Oftentimes Government executes essential capital works that are the direct responsibility of the M&CC and that body in turn castigates the Government for not giving it the money allotted for that purpose. However, the corruption at City Hall seems to have become endemic, as was revealed by the Burrowes Commission of Inquiry.
Georgetown was once a pristine and extremely scenic city, legendary for its idyllic beauty. However, under successive PNC-run City Councils, the deterioration continues to escalate, to the point where it would be a Herculean task, and necessitate the injection of massive amounts of funding, with extremely wise, creative and honest management to restore Guyana’s capital city to its former glory.