Inertia has taken over City Hall
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Dear Editor,

I BELIEVE the time has come for the residents of Georgetown to begin seeking answers as to what services they are really receiving in return for the municipal rates, taxes and fees that they are compelled to pay. And this question needs to be asked, because no longer do they receive demand notices with a summary of proposed income and expenditure attached, something that is required by law, neither are the details of the yearly budget made public. So why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff?
For years now the City Council has stopped building, repairing or maintaining the roads in Georgetown.  It is well known that The Ministry of Public Works is responsible for all declared and main roads in Georgetown, which include the main public highways and roadways. However, it is also established that the Georgetown City Council is responsible for all other streets, roadways and footpaths. But for years now they have stopped purchasing aggregates and binders such as lime, asphalt, concrete, along with other assorted products. In fact, they no longer own any Crawler Excavators, Motor Graders, Road Rollers, Wheel Loaders or an Asphalt Mixing Plant, but rather they just simply wait for central government to do all the roadworks. So where does that portion of property rates that citizens pay go?

Under the law, the Mayor and Councillors of the city of Georgetown have a duty and obligation to collect and impound stray animals found on their own wandering around streets, roads or parks of Georgetown. But alas! They wait for the Ministry of Home Affairs to do this job for them, opting to not even have a dog cart of their own. In the meantime donkeys, horses, cows and other four-footed friends are left to roam the streets aimlessly, posing a risk to life and limb of their own and to humans.
Well over a year ago, a crane toppled and crashed into the municipal abattoir.  Slaughtering of animals, processing of meat and inspection of meat products ground to a halt and have not restarted since. One would have thought that the council would have used the occasion of this near tragedy to tear down this old derelict structure erected since 1933 and replace it with a modern facility to complement the vast potential of Guyana’s agricultural sector, with the goal of boosting beef and pork production with the long-term aim of tapping into the international market. But no, the city seems ready to give up yet another of its functions to central government.

Under the perceptive leadership of the astute lawyer, politician and diplomat, Sir Lionel Luckhoo, who was Mayor of Georgetown in 1955 and again from 1960-1961, the Luckhoo Municipal Pool was developed in Georgetown and provided affordable access to a form of exercise that’s seen as a valuable life skill and one which could bring people together to learn, bond and get fit. After more than 25 years of operation, a crack was discovered and the pool was closed. To date, despite the hopes and aspirations of many, many persons, a new pool was never constructed. What recreational facilities is the council providing to the citizenry?
Years ago the council had in its employ an officer that went around checking to see which street lights were not working and which lamp posts were rotting in the city. This was reported to the power company for remedial action. Those services are gone. Streets are left dark and rotting light poles are left to snap and crash to the ground
The city had its own incinerator and landfill sites to take care of the garbage generated by the citizenry, which was hauled by its own fleet of refuse trucks. Today everything has to be hauled all the way to the Haags Bosch landfill in Eccles that was constructed by central government.

Le Repentir Cemetery, first used in the early 19th century, is the country’s largest burial site with thousands of old and new graves, has been all but abandoned by the Georgetown municipality. One has to put up with vandalised tombs, foul smells, piles of garbage, animal carcasses and roadways blocked with broken palm trees and old fridges, before reaching the final resting places of their loved ones. Is there still a Sexton, and maintenance staff of the cemetery?
The municipality no longer weeds the parapets and reserve areas in the city; no longer fixes broken bridges; hardly maintains the Promenade Gardens; the East Ruimveldt, Albouystown and La Penitence markets are in a state of ruin; City Hall is on the verge of collapse; at the Stabroek Market Wharf, zinc sheets dangle dangerously after a section of the roof caved in a few years ago.
Whenever a criminal act is perpetrated in the city one can never find a city constable to report it to. No longer are sanitary inspectors visiting yards to ensure proper hygiene practices; no longer are the pavements washed or the streets swept; there is no fogging for mosquitoes; buildings are going up all over the city in violation of building codes; itinerant vending and street-vending have gotten out of hand; drains are clogged and flooding occurs after the least rainfall, and now the icing on the cake is that they have decided to shutter their day care centres, one of the few worthwhile services that they offered.
So what are the citizens paying for? Less than 10 per cent of the services to which they are entitled?


Anu Bihari

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