January 15, 2007
IN SOME better news relating to the state of Georgetown, some business owners have decided to come together to spruce up parts of the city.
Called the Downtown Enhancement Initiative (DEI), the project is an initiative by several city businesses geared specifically to enhance the appearance of our capital city during this country's hosting of several matches of the ICC Cricket World Cup during upcoming March and April.
Coming on the heels of the President's cabinet task force on the cleaning up and beautification city, and concurrent to Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy's appeal to Brickdam businesses and government agencies to clean up that city corridor, what sets this DEI apart is, quite obviously, the involvement of the private sector as the initiator of a large scale city cleanup project.
While the businesses involved in the DEI will be working in conjunction with various central government and municipal departments, administration and funding for the project is being provided by the business community.
The sceptic may point out that it took an international event the size of the Cricket World Cup for all this new found interest in beautifying the city. While this may basically be a sound observation, it would be have been a sad state of affairs indeed if no interest at all was shown in spite of the fact that unprecedented tens of thousands of foreign visitors are due to visit Guyana in the space of a few weeks.
Our capital city is, strangely enough, one that we have become accustomed to taking for granted. Those who have travelled can attest both the basic aesthetic beauty of Georgetown, as well the openness and bonhomie of our people relative to other places.
Unfortunately, even though this basic beauty persists, we have neglected our capital to the point that it is hard to see the city shine through its patina of garbage, old cars, and clogged canals.
And paralleling the tarnished physical image of the city is the concurrent breakdown of individual security posed by street crime.
Hence the quiet contemplation of a walk along one of the green-lined streets of Georgetown can be interrupted, perhaps irrevocably shattered, by the site of a heap of rubbish, the decaying carcass of some unfortunate animal, or a rusty abandoned car.
And the heady, feel-good bustling of a day spent shopping in Stabroek Market can end in your jewellery being snatched or your vehicle being broken into. The DEI seeks to reverse this.
The Chairman of the Downtown Enhancement Initiative, Mr. Christopher Fernandes, has indicated that theirs will, understandably, be a short-term project; it is hoped the DEI will be picked eventually be picked up by Local Government.
Minister of Health, Dr. Ramsammy and President Jagdeo have stated, however, that both the Brickdam cleanup campaign and the larger Georgetown beautification initiative, respectively, are intended to be long term ventures.
When the cheering throng of cricket fans has departed these shores, Guyanese will be the ones left to enjoy the benefits of these enhancements, at least of a little while. Hopefully, that time will be long enough to inspire pride in our capital city that has long been missing from the Guyanese heart.
While it makes sense to tidy up your house in expectation of visitors, it makes much more sense to keep it clean simply because you live there.