SOME CHANGES for the BETTER in JUBILEE GEORGETOWN
by Francis Quamina Farrier – for Guyanese Online
After fifty years of Independence, many improvements which discerning citizens had dreamed for our Capital City are far from having been achieved. Some citizens have been openly voicing their disappointment at the lack of a twenty first century clean capital city. However, it must be stated that there are many citizens of our fair city, who have kept the faith during the long years of massive garbage, doing the right thing even when all else seemed to have been lost. They never gave up. They never flinched. They are the unsung heroes and heroines of Georgetown.
They struggled through the mounds and mounds of garbage for over two decades, as they went about their daily activities. Meanwhile, they were ensuring that they did not contribute in any way, to any abuse of the environment. They proved to be part of the solution over the decades. They kept their own environments clean and tidy all the time. They ought to be recognized as being super Citizens of the Fair City of Georgetown, during the period when garbage was galore, here, there and everywhere in Guyana.
Then came a change of Government in May 2015, and one of the first things they did for the Citizens of Georgetown, and those who frequent the Capital City, was to have a massive clean-up campaign of the environment. The desilting of many of the principal drains and canals, which were silted-up and over-run with tall weeds, were also cleaned. In just a few weeks, Georgetown was transformed in a way that seemed almost like a miracle.
However, at this time – the last quarter of 2016 – there is still lots more work to be done, to make Georgetown a “shining city on a mudflat”. But that can be achieved. Reflecting on the very bad days of garbage, one can recall that there were some private citizens who were never a part of the garbage problem. They did the right things day in and day out; never flinching for a moment. Yes, they kept the faith. They kept their surroundings clean and tidy, all the time. Then were also some Corporate Citizens and other enterprises such as Banks DIH Limited, GT&T, Demerara Mutual, Courts, The National Library that keep their standards way up.
Take Mr Rahman as an example of the ordinary citizen who kept their standards high even as the hundreds of garbage heaps were high, high, high! Mr Rahaman sells fruits from a truck at the junction of East and Church Streets, South Cummingsburg, Georgetown. He is a really civic-minded citizen, and it is pleasing to know that there are many others like him in various areas of Georgetown; Queenstown and South Ruimveldt Gardens, for example. Mr Rahman has been selling fruits from his truck, at that Church and East Streets city location for many years. His customers range from the ordinary citizen, to the high and mighty in the Land. He is even patronized by some foreign diplomats. I have seen Mr Rahaman improve that little area of the city; paving it and keeping it very clean on a regular basis, over the years.
Displayed on the top of the truck from which Mr Rahman sells his fruits, are a number of national flags; from our attractive Golden Arrowhead, to the American, Canadian, British, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and a number of other national flags. Going by, or going to buy, one immediately gets the feeling of being a part of a world beyond Georgetown.
Some of us have travelled to parts of that overseas world, or have certainly seen it in the movies, on television or in books and magazines, as well as on our computers. We are a part of our “Wonderful World”, and we are in a position to know that we are way behind many other countries, regards our garbage disposal responsibilities, including our tiny eastern neighbour, Suriname. In Georgetown, for example, we are yet to put our stinking garbage into strong black plastic bags to be collected by the garbage truck workers. We are still in the nineteenth century in this aspect of garbage disposal. We just dump everything into the open garbage bin, which is then emptied into the garbage truck to be carted away. Yuk!
For many years, during the 1990s, and into the first fifteen years of the twenty first century, Georgetown became known as the “garbage city”. This once beautiful capital city of Guyana, had deteriorated from “Glory to garbage”. The majority of the citizens of Georgetown had lost their civic pride in keeping their surroundings clean and tidy. But during those very depressing years, Citizens like Mr Rahaman, continued to do the right thing in terms of keeping their environment clean and tidy. They include the Sculptors who do their sculpting and sell their products on the Main Street Avenue in Georgetown. Those men sweep up every morning before they commence their day’s activities. This is also true of some Street and Pavement Vendors around our Municipal Markets. Whenever I see them cleaning up, I am heartened, and hope that others would follow their example.
During this last quarter of this our Jubilee Year, 2016, we need to look around at our Capital City, Georgetown, once again, with hawk-like eyes and a critical mind, and ask ourselves. “Are litter and garbage slowly creeping back into our streets, and alleyways?” Are our canals, including the important Avenue of the Republic Canal, in need of urgent desilting again?” “Is Georgetown as clean as it was in October 2015?” If the answers are not favourable, and indicate that Georgetown is having a noticeable return to being garbage-filled; that Georgetown’s alleyways are having more garbage than it did in October 2015; That our principal canals and drains need another desilting and cleaning”, then we need to tell those who are in charge, to do what must be done, as soon as is possible. We also need to speak up against our fellow citizens who litter and dump garbage indiscriminately. The achievements in cleanliness which were gained a year ago must not be allowed to whittle away. Like the necessity of us having a daily bath, our city must be constantly cleaned. Keeping our city clean must be an on-going exercise. Not something to be done as a massive “Clean-up Campaign” every twenty years.
Yes, it is true that Georgetown is much cleaner than it was prior to the May 2015 general elections. But there are still those who have not changed their bad habit of littering and dumping garbage. There are many attractive receptacles placed in the downtown areas of Georgetown, and most are being used by the majority of citizens. Unfortunately, there are still some citizens who do not use them, and need to be severely disciplined, for not doing the right thing in the ways they dispose of their litter and garbage. They need to follow the example of Mr Rahaman and other citizens like him. Let’s make Georgetown even more beautiful than it ever was, back in Colonial British Guiana. Not just, “The Garden City of the Caribbean”, but, “A Shining City on a Mudflat”.
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