–as garbage piles up in several areas of the city
LOCAL Government and Regional Development Minister, Nigel Dharamlall on Monday criticised the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown for what he labelled as “mismanagement”, resulting in the piling up of garbage in Georgetown.
“It’s quite unfortunate that in 2021, in the middle of 2021, we still have this massive problem of city drainage and city garbage. I would believe that by now that the City Council, headed by the Mayor, would have put this on top of their agenda in terms of their overall supervision and management of the City of Georgetown,” Dharamlall said.
He added: “It is quite alarming that everywhere you go there are piles of garbage in different parts of Georgetown. I myself had the cause to call members of the City Hall quite a number of times to remove garbage from certain locations when complaints were made to me, after those complaints were not addressed by the City Council.”
Minister Dharamlall is of the belief that under the leadership of Mayor Ubraj Narine and his deputy, Alfred Mentore, little is being done with regards to development of Georgetown, due to the politicising and taking advantage of the A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) control of City Hall.
In making his point, he highlighted that despite Central Government installing 12 massive pumps, and working to get the 10 sluices in the city up and running to be able to properly drain it and prevent flooding, there remains a large accumulation of water after any intense period of rainfall.
NOT PULLING ITS WEIGHT
“If we are to develop Georgetown, and if we are to place our city at the point where this is the image of Guyana, then all of us have to work together. I believe that City Hall is not pulling its weight; they spent or claim to spend in excess of $260M per year on garbage collection, but the city is still strewn with garbage all across,” Dharamlall said.
“I believe that for too long we have had too much recalcitrance at the level of City Hall, as well as the level of those who are dumping garbage in our alleyways, in our drains, along our roadsides, along our streets,” he added.
Mayor Narine, in a letter to the media, has admitted that the culture of littering and dumping has stuck, despite ‘efforts’ by City Hall to dissuade the wanton practice. He also suggested that the bylaws be amended to allow City Hall to increase its fines for illegal dumping.
City Hall, based on reports, hardly, if at all, implements fines for littering and dumping in Georgetown.
The Minister of Local Government indicated that he intends to speak directly to the city’s Solid Waste Director, Walter Narine, and the Town Clerk, as well as the City Constabulary to address the issues of the pile up of garbage and other things in a condign manner.
“The administration of the city, too, has to up its game, and not be cowered by the directors of the political representatives, and, in this case, led by the Mayor and other councillors of the APNU+AFC,” he said.
Dharamlall highlighted that when the APNU+AFC was in government, significant efforts were made to spruce up the city, get the alleyways cleaned, and get garbage collected. However, he maintained that over the past 10 months, there has been a “total shut down of the operations” of the M&CC where these issues are concerned.
He is optimistic that, moving forward, to develop the city, the M&CC is going to work with the Central Government to elevate the services provided by City Hall, as well as making sure that there is a greater level of transparency and accountability within the institution.
Briefly touching on some of the works Central Government will be undertaking in relation to City Hall, Dharamlall listed a number of initiatives, namely, the City Hall restoration project, which will head to tender in the next few days, as well as resources that were provided to complete the administrative building.
He assured the citizens of Georgetown that Central Government will be doing most of the “heavy lifting” to develop the City, and they can expect road constructions, enhanced sanitation services, and various infrastructural works such as enhanced parking in the city.
“We have spoken to the mayor and his deputy about doing infrastructure work to enhance parking and to also enhance the sanitation of Georgetown, and it is apparent that those things have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
“With all of that happening, we expect that the City will also enhance its services that it provides to people. It is quite unfortunate that in 2021, we still have a mayor who refuses to work with the government; who basically speaks from both sides of his mouth. Says one thing and does something else,” he added.
Dharamlall registered that by not working along with the Central Government, City Hall is putting the citizens of Georgetown at a great inconvenience, as businesses, homes and livelihoods are affected. He is of the opinion that the Mayor and City Councilors are refusing to acknowledge the circumstances of the people.
“This has been an ongoing issue since the establishment of the city, and in this modern era since independence, City Hall has basically been run by the APNU+AFC; they are under the false impression that they are actually gaining political mileage by making the city look as dilapidated as they are managing it,” he said.
He continued: “I think that the mayor and councillors at City Hall need to stop with their repugnant attitude towards development; I think that their decision- making has been reckless during most of their decision-making times. I also believe that they need to heed the concerns of the residents of Georgetown.”
The Local Government Minister explained that serious action will be taken against those who are found to be culpable in the mismanagement of the city. He highlighted that there is a special audit into City Hall currently going on, and that once completed and reviewed, action will be taken where necessary.