The Degeneration of Festival City – Is City Council responsible?

Dear Editor,
Festival City was established in 1972 under the late President Forbes Burnham as a village where visiting guests and artists for Carifesta ’72 were accommodated in the 250 houses specially constructed in North Ruimveldt. After Carifesta ’72 these houses were acquired by ordinary Guyanese families.
Over time, many families have worked at improving their homes, and the initial community services have been widened as we exude pride and continue to seek to raise our living standards.
However, regardless of our efforts, we are increasingly being inundated by floodwaters and we are experiencing the loss of aesthetics and the total degradation of our environment. All of this is taking place despite our constant appeals to The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and the Public Infrastructure Ministry. These two agencies have, over time, demonstrated a total disregard for us as citizens.
As a case in point, the Government reserve (northern side of Aubrey Barker Road) is being systematically carved up and handed to a variety of industrial, commercial and other interests, most of which have no connection to the community. In addition to this, shacks are also springing up at various points on reserves surrounding Festival City/North Ruimveldt.
The Festival City entrance sign was knocked down by containers thrown on the Aubrey Barker reserve by disrespectful business persons and never restored, despite efforts by one of our corporate citizens.
Recently a shack-shop, which was built at this location, was demolished by The City Council, but now after claims to the land by various persons, Mayor Chase-Green has apologised to the shack-shop owners and given them permission to rebuild.
How can citizens claim ownership to Council’s reserves?! And why are shacks being allowed to be built on what is the Government reserve? Isn’t the reserve to be used by Council and the Public Infrastructure Ministry to complete works to improve the community, for example drainage and road repairs? Wasn’t it set aside to ensure the existence of green spaces?
We look on this action of the Mayor as perpetuating the degeneration of Festival City. This and other such structures are reducing Festival City to a shanty town. A most disturbing fact is that the Mayor is the directly elected Councillor for our Constituency.
We have been told by successive Councils that the main reason for the constant in and out of season flooding of Festival City/North Ruimveldt is that they cannot have access to the canals because of the people who live on the dam.
However, everyday more squatters continue to build regardless, to the point of erecting permanent concrete structures. Notably they are never flooded so they must be enjoying the good life.
How long must we continue to endure this situation?! Our properties are becoming devalued because of the “shanti-ness” of Festival City/North Ruimveldt, the foundations are being ruined and the roads now becoming a series of potholes.
We, the residents of Festival City, say “No more!!! Enough is enough!! We deserve the good life too!”
We call on the M&CC and the Public Infrastructure Ministry to immediately activate plans to bring relief to our plight. We call on them to engage and advise us of these plans immediately as we wish to be involved. After all some of our houses were built by self-help and we have a record of community cleaning activities.
Maybe if we pool our rates and taxes and instead pay a private contractor, we will be able to restore this community of Festival City, which has tremendous historic significance and stop this dishonouring of our national heritage.

Residents of
Festival City