Laws will be enforced to maintain city clean-up
-- minister stresses By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
March 18, 2007

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MINISTER of Local Government and Regional Development Mr. Kellawan Lall has lauded the scope, quality and volume of work being done by committed and dedicated individuals from all strata of society to ensure the success of the major government-led enhancement programme aimed at beautifying and improving Georgetown and other parts of Guyana.

He noted that the enhancement works specifically in and around Georgetown, and along the East Bank and East Coast road corridors are not only for the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC) tournament, but also beyond.

“We have been doing a good job so far (but) we have to keep up the momentum,” Lall told a meeting he hosted at the Cheddi Jagan Research Institute (Red House) in Kingston, Georgetown Friday.

He also made it clear that the enforcement of the city’s by-laws is crucial to maintaining the momentum gained from the enhancement programme and urged that the laws be upheld at all times.

The minister also warned that no matter who it is, there will be no preference or favouritism and once that person is breaching the law, the necessary action will be taken to correct that situation.

The city enhancement campaign covers several areas, including garbage collection and disposal, rehabilitating road shoulders and verges, drains and canals and removing road impediments, repairing the city’s avenues, landscaping, manicuring trees, refurbishing the National Zoological Park and removing stray animals and vagrants.

Among those in attendance were the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Overseer of the various Neighbourhood Democratic Councils in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica); senior functionaries of the Georgetown Municipality including Town Clerk Beulah Williams and City Engineer Beverley Johnson; and Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Dorga Persaud.

Several stakeholders also gave updates on various sub-projects within the overall enhancement drive. These included Mr. Chris Fernandes who gave an overview of the enhancement works at the level of the private sector; Solid Waste Management Representative Mr. Rufus Lewis on what is being done at the level of the Georgetown Municipality; and Mrs. Indra Chandarpal, Member of Parliament on enhancement works at the national level.

Highlighting the works done by the private sector-led ‘Georgetown downtown enhancement initiative’, Fernandes said 150 garbage bins and receptacles have been strategically placed in the city and 50 more are expected to be placed soon.

He also noted that several trees have been planted in certain sections of the city and those that have been “stolen” are being replanted. He also outlined efforts at improving the public convenience facilities in downtown Georgetown.

Lewis, meanwhile, lauded the collaboration between the government and the Georgetown Mayor and City Council as it relates to the rehabilitation of several roads and pavements in the city, and in cleaning and maintaining several drains, canals and alleyways.

According to him, the municipality has been focusing on the city’s enhancement in a four-pronged manner: addressing road works, drainage, environmental health, and littering.

Lewis also heaped praised on a group of unsung heroes who he described as the ‘Chip Chip’ gang, and said the work done by these individuals should be better appreciated and even compensated.

According to him, the ‘Chip-Chip’ gang is made up of those who “crawl in the tunnels under the roadways” in Georgetown, cleaning the manholes and drains with their bare hands and sometimes with the aid of only a bucket, of rotten garbage, human excrement, decomposed animal carcasses and the like.

“And when you see their bodies (persons from the Chip Chip gang) as they come out from those underground tunnels and under the roads…you wonder if the society is really recognizing the efforts of these people,” Lewis said.

Chandarpal also gave an update on the many works done by the National Enhancement Committee established since 1998. She noted that the work by this committee has been stepped up, and pointed to a recent initiative on the East Bank Demerara where the committee has been working closely with home owners to improve their surroundings and yards, and giving simple tips on how residents can beautify their environment.

Lall, meanwhile, noted that persons are not supposed to have containers for more than 48 hours on the pavement in front of their premises and urged the councillors to ensure that this is adhered to.

He also expressed dismay that even up to today, months after the August 28 elections last year, political posters are still up on lantern poles and by the roadside.

“I want all of those posters removed; I am not concerned about this thing that who put them up should remove them – let us not wait for that because some people will comply and some will not. They all have to be removed.”

He also called for the removal of the “mountains of stone and sand” lying on the roadside, noting that the by-laws stipulate how these can be removed.

He also alluded to a businessman who owns a furniture establishment in the vicinity of the Mon Repos market, East Coast Demerara, but who displays his furniture on the side of the road. This, the minister said, is illegal and will have to stop.

Concerns were raised about the reluctance by owners of two stalls erected at the Diamond market, East Bank Demerara, which will have to be removed from their present location.

Lall also lamented the way vendors display their foods and vegetables for sale, noting that they sometimes display the vegetables on the ground and under insanitary conditions.

In this regard, he said more stringent regulations and management of the markets will be enforced.

“We have to start improving the quality of the foods that we serve and we eat. This business of selling food and vegetables that are lying on the ground…while Guyanese have come to accept this as routine, we have to move away from this habit and aim for more quality and hygiene.”

The minister said one simple thing he suggested to different councils was that fish vendors, for instance, can put a ‘lip’ around their stalls/trays and attach a drain pipe to it. This he said, would allow the fish mongers to put ice on their trays so that the fish they sell can stay fresh (of benefit to both vendor and consumer) while the drain pipe will be used to properly drain the water from the defrosting ice on the tray.

“Once the food remains fresh it is better for them because they can keep it longer during the day…you avoid the stench, the flies and even avoid them constantly throwing water on the fish to keep them fresh and then the water goes all over the place.”

“These are little things that we can do to make a change; all it takes is a little bit of thinking and a little bit of effort,” Lall posited.

He, however, that recently there has been a marked improvement in the quality of the environment and the quality of the services and foods being provided and served. “You can see a marked improvement in the quality of life of the citizens.”

He said many of the problem areas being looked at under the enhancement programme have existed for years and there are several constraints in carrying out the upgrading of Georgetown.

The minister assured that these improvements will be done in accordance with the laws of the city and the country. He noted that there has been considerable cooperation from citizens and urged that others get involved in the enhancement programme which will ultimately be to their own benefit and satisfaction.

These efforts are intended to make residents comfortable and create a hospitable environment for visitors, particularly those expected during the upcoming CWC event, although Lall assured that the programme will certainly continue after CWC.

“I think come the next two weeks, Guyana will be in a fairly presentable state, at least far better than it was – let’s say December of last year,” Lall told the meeting.

He lauded the collective efforts by those at the government level, the municipality and district councils, and the citizens themselves who are working to make the enhancement programme a success.