These values are suddenly important Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
February 26, 2007

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It is indeed refreshing to see attempts at transforming our capital city---Georgetown--- into what it once was: a garden city.

After years of neglect and what might be described as a callous disregard for aesthetic values on the urban landscape, something is being done.

But along came the Mash parade, and as its name suggests, that is what happened to the plot put down where Vlissengen Road and North Road meet, at the eastern end. (See photo on Page 7)

It is now clear that if the “evils” of littering and squatting and all those other negative pursuits which are really against our laws had been nipped in the bud, we would not have had all the troubles we are now faced with, as we scurry to have it all fixed for the Rio Summit and Cricket World Cup.

And the exercise would have been much cheaper.

The problem has always been one where we allow undesirable and unlawful developments to go unchecked, and then suddenly we wake up to the fact that they have become “monsters” and need to be exorcised. This is a culture that has permeated our entire society. We need to get rid of this and replace it with a culture of decisiveness and “stick no nonsense”. This will allow us a much more pleasing environment.

A typical illustration of our counter-productive culture is the recent reluctance shown by vendors to remove from the Stabroek Market area.

Of course they are reluctant to remove. And removing them abruptly does seem unkind. They had been there for years, even though it was illegal and unlawful.

But it seems that if something unlawful is practised for years and years, unchallenged, it becomes right.

But never mind. The old adage: “Better late than never” may be fitting to describe what is currently taking place in the environment

Choosing the hosting of Cricket World Cup and the Rio Summit as a starting point is encouraging and it is heartening to note that officials have assured that this most commendable initiative is part of a long term policy to both improve the aesthetics of our environment and change people’s attitude towards the environment.

So we have made a good start on a long journey that promises to deliver us “to the promised land”.

But the effort has to be sustained on all fronts, and the exercise must not be reduced to politicking.

What is of crucial importance to ensuring that our environment remains the way it ought to be is changing the attitude of people permanently, and that has to be dealt with at the level of the home, school, community, workplaces and at all other social institutions and organisations.

It is easy to clean up and beautify the environment but it is indeed a tall order to keep it that way.

We must find a way to change people’s attitude with regard to matters we had neglected for decades, and which we now suddenly deem as important.