Georgetown continues to be a noisy city
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By Francis Quamina Farrier

This is not about the noisy downtown commercial and industrial areas of the city of Georgetown during the principal 08:00hrs to 16:00hrs. This is about the noise, mainly from those BOOM-BOOM boxes which are played in many locations, including residential areas of the country. In the city of Georgetown, noise is constant, and the majority of citizens will agree that Georgetown is arguably the noisiest city in all of CARICOM. Since I have travelled to all of the cities in CARICOM over the decades, I am well-placed to make such an assessment and pronouncement about Guyana’s well-laid out capital city. As cities go, Georgetown is a cute little capital, with a beauty all its own.

However, with all its beauty, there are many warts and moulds on the face of a city which I like to refer to as, “A Shining City on a Mudflat.” Physically, Georgetown has lots going for it; the tree-lined streets and avenues. The canals add to the beauty of the city when they are clean of grass and other objects. Then, what about added aesthetics? I sometimes visualise and imagine the concrete walls of the canal of the Avenue of the Republic in Georgetown, painted in a colour that experts would approve as being the most appropriate. That would be for the benefit and pleasure of the eyes of citizens and visitors alike. However, this article is focusing more on the pain which the ears of citizens are subjected to day and night, week after week after month, as the years unfold.

In Guyana, it seems as though most drivers of private cars, commercial vehicles as well as government vehicles, seem unable to sit behind the steering wheel of a vehicle without honking the horn aimlessly as they drive along. I have made it a study for quite a number of years, trying to unravel this Guyanese phenomenon sub-culture. What is it about Guyanese drivers which cause them to engage their vehicle’s horns over and over and over again without any justifiable reason? You might want to say to me that this is not exclusive to Guyana; that there are similar drivers in foreign cities; and you are right. However, it is Georgetown the capital city of Guyana which is under discussion. It is a capital city which I foresee as “A shining city on a mud-flat.” At times I would spend 10 or more minutes standing at an intersection in the city and listen carefully to the sounds of madness emanating from vehicles. Then I would look at the faces of the offending drivers; those faces come in all variations. However, during those “Traffic Watching” exercises, I have noted that there is certainly a number of good drivers, who do not honk their vehicle horns unless absolutely necessary. It was a joy to me when I learnt of a driver of a School Bus at Linden in Region 10, who was recognized for her good and exemplary high quality of driving. Bravo to her.

Georgetown is excessively noisy, and one wonders when those in authority will come down in a really firm way on offenders of noise nuisance. Maybe a “NO HORNS TODAY” campaign for drivers of vehicles as a start. Many drivers honk the horns of their vehicles even in “Silent Zones” such as around hospitals and the courts. The noise nuisance situation has gotten really bad. As bad as to result in murder. There was the case about two years ago when one neighbour murdered another over a noise nuisance physical face-off. Many are even unaware of the negative way continuous loud noise adversely affects humans and animals. What are the plans by the relevant authorities to bring this noise nuisance problem to an end? It has been going on for much too long and citizens are suffering terribly. Some have spoken up, demanding a change. For example, Citizen Roshan Khan has expressed his position against Noise Nuisance on many occasions over the years.

This issue is about the quality of life for the Guyanese People who have just celebrated their 51st year of Republican status. Many citizens who do not even know that their human rights are being trampled on by others, who either do not know or do not care about inflicting such pain on their fellow citizens. We have already spoken about the noise nuisance within minibuses. Those minibuses are there to provide a service for which they are paid by their passengers. Yet many of them fail to deliver and seem to have no consideration for the safety and comfort of their passengers. Neighbours who play their stereos, radios or television sets at a very high volume, sometimes late into the night, are in fact inflicting annoyance and even physical pain to their neighbours – especially the sick. Citizens are not enjoying the best quality of life and are getting sick without realizing that the malady is likely caused by constant loud noises.

Added to the BOOM-BOOM boxes which are installed in vehicles, there are those Music Carts with their ‘jumbrellas’ which go around the city blasting their music indiscriminatingly. Mini Bus operators have for years, been pointed out as playing music at extremely loud volumes. The late Commissioner of Police Laurie Lewis used to refer to them as “Mobile Discos.” Laurie Lewis has since left us, but those “Mobile Discos” have remained to torment citizens.

In more recent years, night clubs have been established and operating in many residential communities in the city, much to the annoyance of residents; “I can’t get to sleep at nights. Is who give them permission to operate here?” one victim lamented. There was a night club operating in a property on Cummings Street, South Cummingsburg. The NOISE commenced around 10:00hrs. and continued throughout the night until 04:00hrs. Every night of the year – including Good Friday. There were even the occasions of gunplay on the street in front of the Nightclub. Many reports were made to the police station which is just two blocks away. That was all to no avail. After over two years the affected citizens signed a written protest which was delivered to the Police Divisional Commander. That also resulted in absolutely no change to the nightly noise. Citizens felt unrepresented by the Law.

The Lawless were getting their own way with impunity. One of the affected citizens lamented, “I am a citizen of a very lawless country.” Yes, there is that saying, “Noise annoys.” But what hurts, even more, is “silence.” When Law-abiding citizens appeal to those who have the power to make a positive difference in their lives, and those in authority abdicate that responsibility. That dereliction of duty adversely affects law-abiding citizens in a very negative way.

There is the saying that “Noise annoys.” But that’s not the end of the issue. Noise can and does result in illness of some of the victims. So, will Georgetown become less noisy anytime soon? Only time will tell.

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