More cameras, cops to tackle illegal dumping of garbage
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President Dr. Irfaan Ali (left) removing dried grass and weeds from the median at Vlissengen Road and Hadfield Street during the clean-up exercise on Saturday (Delano Williams photo)
President Dr. Irfaan Ali (left) removing dried grass and weeds from the median at Vlissengen Road and Hadfield Street during the clean-up exercise on Saturday (Delano Williams photo)

–President Ali announces as he leads massive clean-up of city
–clean-up to be done monthly

IN an effort to restore Georgetown to its former glory, President Dr Irfaan Ali, on Saturday, led a massive clean-up exercise during which he announced plans to install security cameras coupled with increased police presence at several known unauthorised dump sites across the city to prevent the illegal disposal of garbage.

The two-day city-wide clean-up exercise will target some 25 unauthorized dumpsites in 13 communities around Georgetown. The government has been rolling out strategic plans to restore and improve the appearance of Georgetown, which was previously known as the “Garden City,” a description of its beauty.

Several pieces of architecture, preserving the history of the past, including the St. George’s Cathedral, the 1763 monument, and The National Gallery of Art, Castellani House, complimented by the kaleidoscope of local flora, make the Garden City a beauty to behold.

Prime Minister Mark Phillips removing heaps of dried grass from the Vlissengen Road and Hadfield Street median on Saturday (Delano Williams photo)

Throughout the years, the dumping of garbage has been, and continues to be, a major issue across the capital city, shrouding the beauty of the country’s history and development, even as the government continues to invent ingenious ways to mitigate the issue.

President Ali, speaking on Saturday, stated that the act of dumping garbage in undesignated dumping sites across the capital city is unpatriotic and anti-national. The Head of State was adamant that it shows blatant disregard for the people of Guyana and the country at large.

He noted that, with the implementation of the new security systems, the government will take the necessary actions to address persons who have shown a blatant disregard for the laws of the land.
“They have no regard for the environment. They have no regard for you, for each one of us that lives in this country because it becomes a public health issue. And it’s time we start calling people out.

“So, whilst police will be out here, the government is working on the cameras to be installed at specific locations. It’s because some of it is deliberate action also. So, we’ll be working on cameras to get these persons who continue to deface our country,” President Ali stated.

Volunteers from the Guyana Defence Force playing their part to remove garbage dumped at the Parliament Square at High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown (Delano Williams photo)

According to the President, the exercise on Saturday was more than just cosmetic. He noted that the government is cognizant of the many health issues as well as the potential environmental risks that could arise from same.

“What you’re seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg. In our assessment, we have 25 sites like this, some of them in far worse conditions that we have to clear this weekend. We have hundreds of trucks, that were volunteered, heavy equipment that was lent, and this is not just going to be a one-off exercise,” the President stated.

The plan, according to President Ali, is to have similar exercises conducted monthly throughout the year as part of the government’s plan to beautify Georgetown. He stated that he intends to, at the level of cabinet, carve out two-hour slots once a month with the assistance of government ministers and officials to undertake similar exercises.

“I’m hoping that from the level of cabinet, we can lead an effort once every month, and all of us can set aside two hours. Once every month nationally we all set aside two hours of our time and we come out and clean.”

The President noted that even as the government continues to engage with its private sector partners, he expects to see the initiative grow with the involvement of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs); both bodies have direct responsibility for the upkeep and beautification of the capital city.

“We want to build a mechanism into the structure, so that’s why I’m proposing that the initiative be once per month. And we also have the mayor and city council and the NCDs who have a responsibility and will continue to play their part. This is a demonstration that we can do it and were going to put infrastructure in place to ensure that,” said President Ali.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips described the over 1,000 volunteers as ‘patriots’, stating that their dedication to taking on the early morning challenge shows their love for the country.
The volunteers included members of the joint services, private sector business owners, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and representatives from civil society.

An excavator removing major debris dumped at the corner of Hadfield and Vlissengen Road on Saturday (Delano Williams photo)

The Prime Minister stated that the joint services in particular are going beyond the call of duty to have the exercise conducted efficiently and effectively.

“The joint services are expected to contribute to the development of Guyana, what you call it economic development, any aspect of development and keeping the environment clean and helping the municipality and the central government clean up the environment is part of development,” the Prime Minister said.

The initiative, Prime Minister Phillips said, comes as Guyana continues to implement systems to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He noted that the government is paying a keen focus on health not just to guard against COVID-19 but also with a greater focus on environmental health and the safe and sanitary disposal of waste in Georgetown.

“Georgetown needs this now, some may argue that we needed it earlier but better late than never; this is an activity that will not only clean up Georgetown and make the place better but it is more linked to environmental health especially at a time when we are battling with COVID, and this is a necessary operation.”

According to the Prime Minister, the initiative will not just seek to improve the physical appearance of the capital city but will also aid significantly with drainage and irrigation in Georgetown. He explained that, in addition to removing debris from the dumpsites, the drains will also be cleaned and weeded to facilitate maximum drainage capabilities.

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