It may be difficult for those who believe that one must live in Guyana to appreciate what is taking place, but although that may have been true a few years ago, we who reside abroad are now kept abreast of daily developments by the newspapers coming out of Georgetown.
Truth be told, for the longest while there has been very little to give hope to Guyanese. What hope could there have been for citizens with the dailies full of news on oil exploitation being undertaken by foreign conglomerates; very little in terms of reducing unemployment; daylight robbery by gangs on bicycles and motorcycles; and insinuations of rampant corruption being the modus vivendi.
So it was a pleasure to read of City Hall, the wooden Gothic Revival building designed by Reverend Ignatius Scoles, over a century old, close to disrepair, but office of the Mayor and City Council in the centre of Georgetown; and of the capacity and offer of its restoration by a local timber and woodworking establishment, Bulkan Timber Works. It is an even greater pleasure knowing that the company is owned and operated by Guyanese, and has been mainly exporting its products for close to twenty-five years, as we learnt at the opening of the company’s showroom in Georgetown.
We have seen the restoration of similar wooden structures in Paramaribo, Suriname, and have often wondered what is the problem in Georgetown, Guyana. Most of the wooden structures in Georgetown have given way to what can only be termed oblong or square concrete monstrosities, generally built wherever and however someone desires.
The impression is that those who make decisions on areas in the city where some of those buildings are erected have no regard for either the law, aesthetics or history. Le Repentir Cemetery has also been forgotten, a classic case of the disregard for aesthetics, the principles concerned with the nature and appreciation of beauty, of the almost forgotten Royal Palm Trees, and those who have gone before us and are reposed there.
I recall the days when the shape of City Hall was outlined by lights; it was, and can once again be, a tourist attraction. The Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Waldron, will no doubt do many things during her stint in that multiple capacity, but the restoration of City Hall would make her portfolio in Tourism something of which we can all be proud.
Our Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat, who was also present at the opening, would no doubt appreciate what can be done with and by two of our many resources – wood and humans. We need to take up the offer of City Hall’s restoration by Bulkan Timber Works, and find the funding to so do.
Keith H Carter MD