How the local government system works
By Miranda La Rose
November 1, 2003
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From this week, Stabroek News will be starting a series on local government in an effort to keep citizens abreast of developments in this area and to shed some light on how the system operates. After a long break, elections not being held since 1970, polls were held in 1994 following the return to democracy for the municipal councils and the neighbourhood democratic councils (NDCs). Fresh elections were due in 1998 but were not held for a combination of reasons including the unrest that followed the 1997 general elections, the curtailment of the new government’s term, the approach of the 2001 general elections and the painstaking reform of the local government laws. The elections were scheduled to be held this year but because of the incomplete state of the reforms they are now slated to be held in 2004 - 10 years after the last elections. In the meanwhile, many councils have been replaced by interim management bodies, others are not functioning and there is generally very poor or non-existent relations between the NDCs and their respective communities. The municipal councils also face similar problems. This series will appear on Saturdays and is being researched and compiled by Stabroek News’ senior reporter Miranda La Rose. The initial instalments will focus on the system, its features and how it operates and will be accompanied by pieces on local government issues.
The general objectives of the system of local government established by and under the Local Government Act, “are to involve as many citizens as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live and ensuring popular participation in organising the political, economic, social and cultural life of those communities”. Under its local government administration, the country has six municipalities, 65 neighbourhood democratic councils (NDC) and 75 Amer-indian communities, including two Amerindian districts spread across the country’s ten political administrative regions.
The local government system is contained in several pieces of legislation, with the main ones being the Local Government Act, the Local Democratic Organs Act, the Municipal and District Councils Act, the Local Authorities (Elec-tions Act), and the Amerindian Act. The Local Government Act makes provision for the preservation of the status of any existing city or town, or of any council established under the Amerindian Act, or of any other local democratic organ.
The local government system includes regions, sub-regions, municipalities, neighbourhood democratic councils (NDCs), people’s cooperative units (PCUs), which have never functioned, Amerindian districts and area and village councils.
The objectives of the local government, the duties of the local authorities or organs and the functions of officers of the various organs are all spelt out in the various pieces of legislation, some of which have been amended over the years to meet developmental needs and changes.
The Local Government Act makes provision for local administration in villages and country districts and NDCs.
An NDC comprises more than one community or village within a specific area and is administered by a chairman, a vice-chairman and councillors depending on its size. Elections for the officers of the NDC are due every three years,when municipal and local government elections are due. The establishment of local government areas, such as the NDCs, is contained in the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.
According to the Local Democratic Organs Act the duties of the local authorities/NDCs are to maintain and protect public property; to protect and improve the physical environment; to improve living and working conditions; to stimulate economic activities and improve production and efficiency; to promote the social and cultural life of the people; to raise the level of civic consciousness; to preserve law and order; to safeguard the rights of the people; to give advice, encouragement and support to the people in their daily activities; and to give leadership by example.
The act, too, provides for the NDCs, as corporate bodies, to make their own regulations; employ full-time officers; and to establish petty courts.
Local democratic organs may, with the approval of the Minister of Local Government, under the Local Democratic Organs Act, make provision for the proper management and administration of areas by raising revenue from tolls, rates and dues; conducting any business which it may be authorised to carry on under its constitutional order; or by acquiring land compulsorily for local government purposes.
The Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) are picked when general elections are held every five years and not with the rest of the local government organs. The RDCs are headed by regional chairmen, regional vice-chairmen and regional executive officers, who are the public service-appointed officers of the RDCs.
According to the Local Demo-cratic Organs Act, the chairmen and vice-chairmen are full-time officers of the RDCs. The RDCs are guided by general policies of the government - in the management and development of regions. Every council is guided by the general policies of the government and the national objectives as set by the government; it devises its development plans and programmes to ensure consistency with such policies and objectives. In the performance of their functions each councillor “shall endeavour to cooperate with every other councillor and with all socio-economic institutions in the area”.
The NDCs are sandwiched between the RDCs and Central Government. However, the extent to which the RDCs could interfere with the work of the NDCs is limited by law.
While the RDCs have a supervisory role in relation to how monies are spent and programme-planning, the NDCs are accountable to the Local Government Ministry.
Region Eight (Potaro/Siparuni) is the only political administrative region without an NDC. Region One (Barima/Waini) has one; Region Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam) has five; Region Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), 14; Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica), 15; Region Five (Mahaica/West Berbice), ten; Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne), 16; and Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni), Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Esse-quibo) and Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) have one each.
The country’s six municipalities include the city of Georgetown and the mining town of Linden in the county of Demerara. In the county of Berbice there are three towns - New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, and Corriverton. And though Essequibo is the largest county in terms of land mass, it has just one town - Anna Regina.
The mayors and deputies of these municipalities have mostly remained in office over the last eight years since in that time there have been no local government elections, chiefly because of a lack of legislation.
Under the Local Government Act, the mayor and deputy mayor of any city or town shall be full-time officers of any city or town, unless the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development considers it justifiable, direct that he/she should not be a full-time officer of the council.
Election of mayors and deputy mayors and chairmen and deputy chairmen of NDCs from among elected councillors, are due each year. However, this has not been the case over the past five years.
The Local Government Act makes provision for the Central Administration to borrow money and to purchase property sold for non-payment of rates. It gives the minister the power to inquire; direct officers to inquire; and to act as a local authority among other provisions. In terms of administration of village, country and rural districts and local authorities; it makes provision for the constitution of the councils, qualification, disqualification and membership of elected councillors, election of chairman of a village council, dissolution of village council and local authorities.
The act makes provision for the employment of officers and servants of village councils and country authorities; vesting of property in village councils and country authorities and management of undivided lands.
In relation to estimates of rates, it looks at the levying of rates and collection of rates.
General provision deals with drainage by local authority; issue of water from a tank or reservoir; offensive water course; power of local authority to require proprietor or occupier of land to maintain dams, trenches and sluices thereof; regulation of trades and erection of machinery; markets; continuing in offence in respect of construction of a market place or other conveniences for the purpose of holding a market without permission; slaughter houses; baths and wash-houses; burial fees; overhanging trees; straying animals; power to purchase land; sale of surplus lands; purchase of lands; power to let lands; mode of reference to arbitration; provisions as to arbitrators; reference to magistrate of claim under $500; defraying expenses incurred by local authority; payment of rates by occupier and recovery of amounts thereof from proprietor; recovery of expenses where a plantation is included in a district; local authority may borrow on credit of rates.
The laws also make provision for the drainage of village and country districts through adjoining lands; works of special magnitude in village and country districts; loans and grants; accounts and expenditure of village and country districts; offences and miscellaneous matters; construction, repeal and savings.
Just after the 1980 Constitution came into being, the Regional Development Bill was passed in Parliament paving the way for the establishment of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) to replace the village and district councils. However, since then there have been numerous complaints about the size of NDCs, some of which comprise several villages, and the inability of the councillors to manage the affairs of the NDCs. There have been calls, too, to revert to the system of village and district councils to ensure that the affairs of each individual village are dealt with. The People’s Cooperative Units (PCUs) which were meant to replace the village councils and would have addressed these individual matters never came into being, though provision is made for the establishment of the PCUs under the Local Democratic Organs Act.
Many NDC councillors across the country say that because there have been no local government elections since 1994 (prior to that the last one had been in 1970), complacency and a lack of accountability reigned. In addition, a number of the councillors had migrated, some had died and some just lost interest. Replacing councillors soon became an exercise in futility once the names of candidates who had contested the local government elections had been exhausted. One NDC chairman said “you pull names to replace those who either migrated or lost interest... and you pull and you pull, till you’re left without names”. He noted that the Canefield/Enterprise NDC in Region Six had been reduced to three councillors and the government had no option but to install an Interim Management Committee (IMC).
Recently Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore, dissolved another NDC — the Maida/Tarlogie NDC in Region Six — and replaced it with an IMC.
Two others were due to be dissolved and IMCs set up pending the local government elections. In Region Five the NDCs of Bath/Woodley Park, Rosignol/Zeelust, Profit/Rising Sun and Bel Air/Woodlands have been replaced by IMCs.
Chairman of the Plaisance/Industry NDC, Thomas Sandiford told Stabroek News that one of the major and common problems facing the NDCs is the collection of rates and taxes. Citizens were not upholding their civic responsibility, he said, but somehow expected services from the NDCs. However, he conceded that one of the reasons why they may not be paying their dues could be their economic circumstances.
Another big problem, he said, was waste disposal and this was compounded by the burgeoning use of plastics. In Georgetown and coastal areas the problem is widespread with trenches, drains and the seawall being used for waste disposal. In the heavily populated NDCs, Sandiford said, it was difficult to find waste disposal sites. In the Plaisance/Industry NDC, he said, garbage is disposed off at the back of the burial ground. But though the NDC digs pits and buries the garbage, collection has increased making disposal of the refuse a serious problem.
Another problem he identified was that of the release of the government subvention. While the Ministry of Local Government may say that NDCs are slow in preparing their budgets, Sandiford said that these still have to await the reading of the National Budget. Even after this is read, he said, funds for NDC budgets are not released until mid-year. By this time the rainy season would have started. When the weather is inclement, he noted, capital works, including roads construction and repair, are held back. There is always a scramble to complete projects by November, he said.
Wendel Allicock, the chairman of the Mabaruma/Kumaka/Hosororo NDC told Stabroek News that cooperation with the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) was fairly good but there was always room for improvement. One of the problems that his NDC encounters, he said, is the late release of the government annual $3 million subvention for capital works. He said that some years the funds are not released until just two months before the end of the fiscal year. If the funds are not used up in that two-month period, they have to be returned to the Central Government’s coffers.
He noted that there were also areas of overlap in responsibilities between the RDC and the NDC but once the lines of communication were open the problems would be resolved.
Allicock noted, too, that the regional administration would make recommendations to the NDC as to how the councillors could improve on their work, especially if the NDC puts forward a plan of action that may appear to be too ambitious. He feels that there is mutual respect between the officers of the RDC and the NDC.
Former councillor of the Region Four RDC, Desmond Trotman, said in a brief interview that integrating the concerns of people into their work plans was a common problem the NDCs faced. Very often, he said, the NDCs implemented plans of action which they believed to be, but which were not, relevant to the communities they served. “The NDCs fail to ground with the people. The NDCs hardly ever hold meetings to involve the people, as such they act in isolation,” he added. Trotman said that another common area in which NDCs fail is drafting a budget.
Another obvious weakness, Trotman said, is the manner in which contracts are awarded. Too often the business of the NDCs is treated as the ‘personal game reserve’ of the council or like personal entities of councillors. Many NDCs, Trotman said, do not conform to the law as it relates to contracts and a number of contractors act as fronts for councillors. This problem, he said, could be addressed if citizens vet the contracts as a first step even before they go to the RDC. In this way, the corruption around contracts may be averted.
One of the strengths of the NDCs is that, in theory, it has a lot of autonomy to do things on behalf of the council and communities could expect that when the council operates, it is on behalf of the citizens.
Because of the number of villages which tend to make up the NDCs, Trotman said, many people, whose resources could be tapped to benefit a community tend to feel estranged from the NDCs. After the last local government elections, he said, there was no integration between the councillors and the communities they serve.
He said that people have expressed the desire for a return to the system of the village councils, which they said were more manageable. Village councillors, too, he said, interacted more with the citizens of the community. He feels that people have more confidence in the village council than any other system.
However, Sandiford feels that those who are advocating a return to the village system are seeking to further divide the country which already experiences problems of race and ethnicity. He noted that the majority of Guyana’s communities are predominantly of one ethnic group. NDCs bring about cohesion, since they comprise several contiguous villages of various ethnic groups coexisting. He said that the idea behind NDCs is to bring people together to work for a common good and reverting to the village councils would defeat that purpose. He does not see the size of the NDCs as unmanageable but noted the absence of local government elections and other problems that affect the smooth running of the NDCs.
Describing the relationship between the RDC and the NDCs as cordial, Sandiford said that the NDC chairmen of Region Four comprised the Local Government Committee. He said that they meet as a committee with the RDC to discuss issues and find common solutions to their problems.
Politics, too, he said, plays a part in the problems in some of the NDCs. The NDC, which he heads, comprises the citizens group which won the NDC elections over the PPP/C slate. Eighteen persons were elected to serve but there is always the tendency of those who were supported by political parties to take counsel from the parties’ headquarters than from the citizens who elected them to serve.
He feels strongly that political parties should not contest local government elections because the party becomes the paramount institution and selects the candidates it feels are fit to contest the elections as against the people who know the candidates best.
The RDCs have a supervisory function in relation to how monies are spent. The law says that the NDCs can spend up to $100,000. Any amount above this sum has to be approved by the RDCs. Programmes for spending go through the RDCs but the NDCs are accountable to the Ministry of Local Government. Trotman said that the main problem between the NDCs and the RDCs is related to the manner in which sums approved under the budget are spent. Some NDCs conform to the financial guidelines while some others refuse to do so at times.
However, he added, because of the absence of local government elections over the last eight years, accountability “was not always guaranteed and, perhaps, less so now”.
He said that the RDCs could consult with the NDCs and the same with Central Government in executing projects in the NDCs. This does not always happen and sometimes NDCs would only be aware of what central government is doing when works begin. This is mainly in relation to the construction and rehabilitation of public roads. Trotman said that the RDC in Region Four always tried to take steps to identify roads through a process of consultation with the NDCs.
At a press conference in June, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Harripersaud Nokta, told the media that 64 of the 65 NDCs had submitted programmes for their $3 million subvention. The lone NDC which had not submitted its work programme was Kwakwani.
In addition, he said, the Georgetown City Council and the town councils of New Amsterdam and Linden had also not submitted their work programmes for 2003 which would facilitate the release of their subventions. However, the other municipalities submitted their work programmes. Anna Regina was ahead and had already received $4 million for disbursement.
In June, too, less than half the number of NDCs had received their subvention and according to officials of the Ministry of Local Government and regional development, this was because the NDCs were late in submitting their work programmes.
Nokta noted that $6 million had been disbursed to the NDCs in Region Two; $21 million in Region Three; $21 million in Region Four; $10 million in Region Five; and $21 million in Region Six.
Nine-year-old council pushing forward with plans Better Hope/Vryheid's Lust NDC
The Better Hope/Vryheid's Lust Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) is one of the larger NDCs in the country with a population of some 18,000-odd people. It encompasses Montrose, Felicity, Le Ressouvenir, Chateau Margot, Success, La Bonne Intention (LBI) and Brothers, which includes Atlantic Gardens and Happy Acres.
The NDC is administered by an 18-member council. The ruling PPP/C, which contested the last local government elections held nine years ago, holds 16 seats with the remaining two being held by independent members. However, at present, the council has just ten members. NDC Chairman, Thakur 'Mike' Persaud, told Stabroek News that there was no reserve of councillors from which to draw as the list of candidates who contested the last elections had been exhausted.
Being in office for nine years has taken its toll. "It is a real fight to keep the council functioning," he said, adding that elected councillors and their replacements over the years have either migrated, died or just opted out for varying reasons.
As chairman he feels that his job should be a full-time one in order for him to dedicate the time needed to the task. Persaud receives a stipend of $5,000 a month to chair to council and so can only give after-work hours, half-days on Saturdays and Sundays to the NDC. "That job needs more man hours", he said. "I can't go to a wedding or a funeral without meeting someone stating that there is a problem somewhere. Even if I want to take a beer, someone would come up and say 'me drain got a problem...' he wouldn't ask me how is my family... ."
An upgraded Vryheid's Lust North Street (Photo by Jules Gibson)
Persaud said that from the time he arrives at home from work the telephone rings continuously for him. He said that he does a lot of work via the telephone and visits problem areas on Sundays. He said he receives few compliments as people would more freely express their dissatisfaction with various aspects of the council's work. "There are more curses, than compliments out there," he said.
The NDC has two well-kept community centres, each equipped with a pavilion and spacious grounds on which a variety of outdoor games are played. One is at Better Hope and the other at LBI. The sports ground at Better Hope houses the NDC office, which was completely refurbished, as well as a nursery school, which was newly built.
In the past, the village of Better Hope had no nursery school and young children had to travel to the neighbouring village of Plaisance and elsewhere. The NDC lobbied for a nursery school and got the go-ahead to build one. The community donated a part of the land on which the community centre sits and the nursery school was erected with the help of the Social Impact Amelioration Project (SIMAP). The NDC has also collaborated with SIMAP for the re-building of the Better Hope community centre, which is a hive of activity in that community throughout the week. It sits on the border of the sports ground.
Apart from its ordered stands from which spectators enjoy their favourite sports, the centre has a functioning library and a computer laboratory which children frequent after school hours and on Saturdays. In addition, classes in home economics and art and craft are conducted there.
The NDC library which began at Better Hope was recently extended to LBI where another branch was opened with the help of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO). Together the two libraries service children from as far as Grove on the East Bank Demerara and Cane Grove on the East Coast Demerara.
In order to keep animals out of the Better Hope community centre ground and protect it from vandals, the NDC and the Better Hope Community Development Council (CDC) erected a fence around the ground. The two groups also worked together in upgrading the ground which is the scene of many sporting activities including cricket competitions, motorcycle and grass track racing and schools' track and field championships. Duck curry competitions are also held there on Sundays as well as on other special occasions.
To upgrade the ground, 100 truckloads of mud were used to elevate it from the constant flooding it was subjected to in the past. It was truly a community effort, a group of young men said, adding that apart from the CDC and the NDC, businessmen in the area also pitched in with funds. The NDC lauded the efforts of businessmen not only from within the community but from outside as well.
Persaud said that when the current NDC took office most of the pipelines in the area were defective and there was a lot of wastage of water. There is still wastage in some areas "but we've come a long way in resolving that problem".
Again with the help of SIMAP, which contributed $5 million to the project, all the old pipelines were replaced. The NDC did all the dredging and back-filling. To cut costs the NDC bought a 'bobcat' (earth-moving equipment) and a tractor.
At present the NDC receives water from two sources, a well at Better Hope and another at LBI but the Guyana Water Inc is currently working on an integrated system which will also provide a backup to the water supply system in the neighbouring NDC of Plaisance/Goedverwagting. At present, water is rationed. It flows between 0500 hrs to 0800 hrs; 1100 hrs to 1300 hrs and from 1600 hrs to 2000 hrs each day. However, once the new system is in place it is expected that water will flow on a 24-hour basis.
Electricity and communication by telephone is not a problem. Even the squatting areas have telephones and electricity.
Recalling the challenges which the council faced at the time it took office, Persaud said the only equipment the NDC owned then "was a half of a tractor and another trailer" and a donkey cart for garbage collection. The NDC rebuilt the trailer and bought another tractor at a cost of $1.1 million. A local business, which has since closed, presented the NDC with another trailer.
The NDC attached a backhoe to the bobcat which it had bought for earth-moving purposes and uses this to clean small drains in the area. The NDC has employed a full-time driver who is also responsible for the maintenance of the tractor.
Squatting and regularisation
Squatting is not much of a problem in the area. There had been some problems on the Railway Embankment Road but that area is currently being regularised. Other areas where squatting was regularised include Montrose, Vryheid's Lust and Better Hope South. To deal with the problem of squatting, Persaud said, the Works Committee engaged the services of some surveyors who demarcated the house lots to bring order to the area. Initially there was some opposition to this, but through constant engagement and dialogue with those affected the problems were resolved.
Most of the roads were also surveyed and all of the streets in the NDC were upgraded. The roads in Better Hope, Vryheid's Lust North and Montrose have gone from "crab grass to streets," Persaud said.
He recalled that when the rain fell or there was flooding due to high tides, residents in Better Hope and Montrose used boats to traverse the area or to get to the Public Road. The loam roads were all full of puddles and many were patched with bricks. This problem still exists in some parts of LBI, Earl's Court, Ujamaa and Kersaint but these areas are not subject to frequent flooding as occurred in the past.
Residents concurred that the roads were better. They said that previously cars could not enter some of the streets and residents who owned vehicles had to park them away from their homes, with neighbours and relatives on the Public Road or even in another village. However, there were complaints that some of the streets were "breaking up" too quickly.
Garbage disposal is a major problem in the area. According to the rules and regulations governing the NDCs, they are responsible for the disposal of kitchen/domestic waste. However, most of the villages which the NDC is responsible for are now littered with dead branches from trees, old refrigerators, car shells, plastic bottles and tyres. The bank of the trench bordering LBI and Chateau Margot is a graveyard for old vehicles, in addition to business/industrial refuse, which is also dumped in the trench. Garbage is also dumped along the seashore and roadside.
Persaud said that no one takes responsibility for the dumping of the refuse in public areas and "the area hasn't even a landfill site". There is no land available in the NDC to develop such a site. He said that because of the proximity of the NDC to Georgetown, he suspects that the accumulation of garbage in Better Hope/Vryheid's Lust is more than most NDCs in the country. To deal with the garbage disposal problem, he said, he would need assistance from central government at least in the short term.
In the long term, he said, there is land earmarked for the development of a landfill site behind the jail at Lusignan on the East Coast Demerara. That site, he said, would have the potential to manage all the garbage on the East Coast Demerara.
He believes that there should be laws to deal specifically with the issue of plastics which is big problem in the area.
The area still has poor drainage, but the problem is not as pronounced as it was when the current council took office, Persaud said. Previously there was constant flooding following rainfall because of blocked trenches and outfalls. However all of the trenches in the NDC have now been cleaned, so that the flow of water is not impeded. But he said that there was still some flooding, partly because the koker (sluice) at Montrose was not functioning as it ought to and partly because water from the backlands drained into the residential areas which are lower. The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) owns the backlands and has been trying to rectify the problem. Persaud said that generally GUYSUCO has been a good corporate citizen.
Rates and taxes
The collection of rates and taxes is not considered a problem in the Better Hope/LBI NDC. At the time of the interview, the NDC's deputy overseer told Stabroek News that about 85% of the people had paid their rates and taxes. "People are seeing the service we are providing so they are paying up," he said.
While the NDC gets a $3 million subvention from the government, its budget this year was $30 million and this was based on revenue collection projections. He said that 10% of the revenue collected is earmarked for administrative and current expenditure and the remainder goes to capital works.
Persaud feels that the Better Hope/LBI NDC is one of the best in the country. He said that rates and taxes were raised last year but there were no immediate plans to raise taxes for the rest of this year. He credits much of the NDC's success to its female overseer, whom he described as being very strict and a stickler for accountability.
He said that the council was a pro-active one that took time out to get a feel of what was happening on the ground. Each year, it conducts a mid-year budget review to assess works and see where improvements could be made. Councillors have responsibility for various villages or wards and they are expected to place the problems of those areas before the council when it meets.
Councillor Deonarine Arjune heads the Works Committee, which, according to residents in the NDC, is the most active of the committees.
With regard to cooperation from residents in the NDC, Persaud singled out Vryheid's Lust South where the Guyana Defence Force Housing Scheme is located. He said that during the laying of pipelines, the residents came out in full numbers to dig the drains to facilitate the exercise and to cover them after the pipes were laid. The response was not as enthusiastic in other areas, he said.
The Ministry of Health's public health inspector visits the area on a regular basis. However, illegal structures and illegal additions to structures are a problem. The NDC has been complaining about this since 1994, Persaud said but the relevant personnel are not available to enforce the laws. Even if a full-time person cannot be found, Persaud feels that monitoring and inspections could be done on a part-time basis. The absence of relevant personnel, he said, is holding up applications from persons who want to go about their business in the right way.
Another problem, he said, is the mushrooming of businesses overnight. To establish a business, he said, an application has to be made to the NDC which would make a recommendation to the Central Housing and Planning Authority. However, he said businesses would suddenly appear in the communities for which he knew no formal application had been made. When challenged, the proprietors would claim that they had been granted permission and they would display their licences. In many cases these are liquor licences and he recognised that the council had been bypassed in the issuance of these licences. This problem, he said, was bigger than the council. "How they get the licences? This is a difficult issue for me," he added.
He referred to a case of a man building a horse pen. He said he dealt with the issue as best as he could. However, for the next seven days, Persaud could not sleep because "people pelted my house for a whole week at night. The laws are there but the problem is one of enforcement", he said.
Keeping animals off the streets for the safety of pedestrians and for the protection of public property is another problem the NDC faces, he said. He noted that there is a street in Success, which is known simply as `Pork Street' because pigs roam there at will. They are damaging not only the road but the drains, culverts and the parapets in the area. Residents there are being encouraged to build pens for their animals.
Cattle farmers, too, allow their animals to roam freely. Ideally, the area should have been zoned before squatters moved in, and sections clearly demarcated for certain activities. As it is, most of the land has been taken up for housing and there is no vacant land large enough for a pasture. Persaud said people have to make the effort to keep their animals off the streets and in order to enforce this, plans are currently underway to establish a pound at Beterverwagting. "People got to make a living, but it got to be as far as possible within the law," he said.