One of the better roads in the country has potholes. And this led to a fiery protest by some persons because it was said that a young man died in an accident after he was forced to dodge this pothole. This is most sad. No one should lose his life because of such circumstances.
But even more disconcerting was the reaction of those who started the fires to protest the potholes. No attempt was made to engage the authorities. Instead protest action was initiated over what is well-known to be one of the better roads in the city- so good that persons can often be found speeding on that roadway and this has led to a few accidents.
The government quickly moved to deal with the situation by repairing the potholes. Because this area is viewed as a stronghold of the main opposition, the actions of the government will be viewed as placating the supporters of the opposition while main roads in far worse situation remain in a dire state in other areas including other opposition constituencies.
It is commendable that the government responded so promptly to a concern but unacceptable that those behind the protest should resort to the burning of material on the roadway. This sort of behaviour should not be condoned and the quick response would only encourage others to do the same and lead to a situation whereby people feel that they will be rewarded for engaging in illegal conduct.
The responsibility for the upkeep of that roadway is that of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown. But it was the government that responded.
Obviously the government cannot respond immediately to all the concerns or future protests over roads. What is needed is a programmed response.
When the PPP first took office in 1992, the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) observing the utter decay in the infrastructure of the country, floated an idea of a community-wide audit of the country to identify in each area what needed to be fixed and then coming up with a comprehensive list of projects to address these concerns over the long term.
This idea was never accepted since the budgetary process allows for the various regions to make representation to central government about projects which needed to be done in their regions and this is where the problems of the respective communities could be captured.
The process is, however, not perfect and there will always remain discontent especially since some areas will feel that sufficient attention was not paid to them.
At the same time, even though a number of projects may have been identified, not all projects can be approved since economics is about applying scarce resources to unlimited needs. Some things will have to be put on the chopping block.
It is time now for there to be a comprehensive audit of all communities to identify what roads need to be repaired, what drains need to be cleared and what else needs to be taken care of. This should then form the basis of a nation-wide mini-plan to address the concerns of all areas in the country.
If this is done and if it’s announced what will be done and when it will be done, the people will not all be pleased but they will show a greater understanding of the situation.
The PPP/C has done a fantastic job repairing the run-down infrastructure that they inherited. They have done a remarkable job in the two decades so far but what is repaired fully today will go into ruin soon and it is also a fact there was quite a lot of substandard work in many cases.
And it is hoped that all the political parties can see the value in the suggestion which was floated twenty years ago. There needs to be a full understanding of the state of our communities. And the faster this audit is done, the quicker will be the response to the problems.
In the meantime, people must try not to be destructive as they call attention to their problems. Protests should not lead to damage of the roads, especially when the state of the roads is the reasons for the protests.