Citizens have given up hope of seeing any improvement in Georgetown Consumer Concerns
By Eileen Cox
Stabroek News
February 9, 2003

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Last week I was putting forward the idea that the development of the tourist industry could lead to team-work among the citizens of Georgetown. I referred, in particular, to the taxi service. Again I must emphasize that taxi drivers should not use cell phones when transporting passengers. It disturbs their clients.

The American Consumer Reports for February 2002 carries a statement under the caption ‘Driven to Distraction?’

“Because more people are talking on cellular phones while driving, legislation has been introduced in various states and municipalities that would place limitations on the practice. Most, such as New York’s new ban, focus only on handheld phones. But independent studies and our own evaluation demonstrate that using a handsfree phone can be just as distracting.”

Well, before the habit grows, the individual owners of taxi services can issue a directive to their drivers to keep the use of cell phones strictly for their off-duty periods.

But back to tourism and the way in which it can be used to develop team work among the citizens of Georgetown.

We can take a look now at the mini-bus service. This is run in such an unprofessional manner that we give up hope of ever seeing any improvement. There was an attempt to have improvement in the No. 40 bus service but, thanks to the great guns at the City, all this came to an abrupt halt and the free-for-all behaviour resumed.

The Sparta Global Enterprise which operates a service with larger buses, much to our sorrow, has not yet been able to locate a terminal in Georgetown to facilitate its operations in the capital city.

We are told that the tourism association is focusing on training. Training is very important and will no doubt cover various aspects of the hotel business. I do wish from a personal viewpoint that training would include some lessons in vegetarian cooking, which would please not only vegetarians but many meat-eaters.

The hotel business is fraught with unexpected concerns from discriminating guests. I have heard a guest give a hotel a very low rating because it failed to supply a plastic shower cap for use in the bathroom. The size of hotel rooms is also very important to some guests. Honest staff is expected. Acceptable hotel accommodation can be safely left to the Hotel Associations.

We come to the intractable problem of keeping the city and its environs in a manner that would win applause from visitors. Well do I remember the days when visitors from the Caribbean admired our well-kept parapets. Today the parapet has to be cleaned by house owners. The city is in a mess. Visit Water Street and imagine your shame if you ever have to escort a tourist through the area south of Church street.

Of course, the Chief Citizen is not to be blamed. Cecil Griffith on Monday January 27 reported that he is ‘Chief Citizen’ in name only. The city engineer cites the bye-laws and announces that he must act according to the law. Tell that to the marines! Look at the very wide pavement that leads from Fogarty’s to Guyana Stores. Vendors have completely taken that pavement away from pedestrians. It is now a dark cavern that self-respecting citizens will not enter.

The southern section of Water Street is also a blight on the city. Citizens have grown weary of complaining. The No. 45 bus must crawl through that area as vendors encroach on the road not satisfied with the pavement.

Citizens of Georgetown have given up hope of seeing any improvement in Water street so this is the scene that our visitors must encounter. As they see the horror of it we, the citizens of Georgetown, will be held culpable until tourists come to understand the manner in which Guyana operates.

Some citizens hold the view that only a city manager can bring Georgetown back to its former beautiful state. That we fail to have this accepted as the only solution is due to the lack of interest shown by so many who pin their hopes for a decent life on migration. While they are here they litter the streets and fill the drains with fruit skins, plastic and all discarded stuff. Arriving in the United States or wherever their new home is located, their attitude changes overnight and they become good citizens.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” so we can still hope and strive for a united citizenry in Georgetown and, with teamwork, create a Georgetown that tourists will admire. Our citizens smile readily, let our visitors also smile with pleasure.

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