City Hall and the capital cleanup

Stabroek News
November 6, 2015
Business Editorial

It is entirely fair to give City Hall a gentle pat on the back for what we expect is an ongoing effort to change the appearance of the city – and its own image in the process – even as it appears to enjoy a relationship with the present administration than it apparently did with the previous one.

Setting aside the feel good effects of a capital where the grass is cut, drains flow freely, pavements are unencumbered and canals are relieved of filth, bringing a sense of cleanliness and good order to Georgetown in effect makes it more commerce-friendly. The vendors, particularly, are likely to benefit from increased levels of patronage from consumers who now consider cleaner more orderly streets and pavements worth the time as far as shopping is concerned. As an aside it has to be said that on the issue of keeping the vending areas (at least some of them) clean, the vendors and City Hall appear to have come to an admirable modus vivendi, even though we have learnt that the present relationship derives from some robust persuasion of behalf of the municipality.

Still, it has to be said that with the numbers of vendors seemingly increasing every day there is still the issue of congestion on the streets and this is where there is need for solutions that probably go beyond the capabilities of City Hall.

This newspaper has argued previously that in an economy with high unemployment such as ours, there is need for a public vending policy that goes beyond simply reading a riot act on people looking to 'ketch deh hand.' There is a need for other convivial spaces, and by convivial we mean arrangements that are underpinned by good order and by rules that take account of the importance of supporting the work that is currently underway to raise the standards of cleanliness and sanitation is the capital.

It has to be said that the areas close to, nearby and inside all of the capital's municipal markets have suffered from chronic neglect over a protracted periods and up until now that still remains the case. Thorough overhauls – including cleaning and renovation work inside the markets is an absolute necessity if City Hall is to earn full credit for the job it is doing. Dealing with other areas of deficiency whilst leaving vendors and consumers in municipal markets in trading spaces that are unsafe, unhealthy and unpleasant is really doing only part of the job.

An interesting tango already appears to be ensuring between City Hall and those citizens who appear unmindful of the municipality's efforts to raise standards. In the face of persistence in some quarters in undermining efforts to bring positive change the jury would still appear to be out as to whether we should go down the road of PR initiatives and sensitization programmes aimed at changing attitudes or whether we should simply begin with a riot act, designed to send a tough and immediate message to would-be transgressors. That is of course for City Hall to decide. Our only comment is that it is up to the municipality to do what it has to in order to protect the modest but commendable gains that it has secured up to this time.