Much has been said recently about Georgetown having been transformed from a “Garden City” into a “Garbage City”. The initiative of the ambassadors to stimulate some sort of citizens’ action and the latest flooding yesterday brought this home. But the problem (literally) goes deeper. It is a matter of hydraulics.
While most of us learn (by rote) that our coastland is below sea-level – and that this applies in spades to Georgetown – we blithely ignore the demands that this circumstance places on us. In addition to the water accumulated from rainfall, we have to factor in that continually streaming into the canals and sewers from the Lama Canal via our faucets and toilets.
Georgetown has to be continuously drained to save us from wallowing in filth and garbage. Of course we can work to make the drainage systems more efficient, but even with a tenth of the present population back in the 19th century, the benighted state of our city’s hygiene was the butt of bitter jokes.
We are in the throes of a vicious spiral: we all clamour for our country to be developed; development is interpreted as the expansion of Georgetown – first by building sideways and of recent, upwards –all of which places ever greater strains on the capabilities of our hydraulic systems. We are, unfortunately, constrained by the tides – drainage can only take place at low tides. At other times we have to constantly keep our fingers crossed that our drains, canals and sewerage lines can hold the build-up of effluents. With our propensity to dispose of our Styrofoam waste directly into our drains, that has been a losing battle.
Then, we should all know by now – on account of the intense bombardment we have been subjected to on Climate Change – that sea levels are inexorably rising due to global warming. With the developed countries in no mood to sign off on a new Climate Change Protocol, Georgetown will face ever increasing pressures from the waters – externally as well as internally. What are we to do?
This paper has been clamouring for years that we cease placing most of our development eggs in Georgetown. Has anybody looked at our New York style traffic jams to our not so fair capital during ‘rush hours”? We have to ease the pressures from our major city or it will sink into more than just a pile-up of garbage. We have suggested that we start by moving our administrative capital inland to higher ground. Georgetown will remain a central commercial location and harbour – but only if it is given an opportunity to keep its challenges from the waters, at bay. The world has recognised the dangers to low-lying coastal nations posed by rising seas and money is available for assisting countries that have to take preventative measures from being inundated.
From our own special circumstances, there are many other just as valid reasons for moving our administrative capital inland. All development experts – in and out of government – agree that our economic future lies in increased trade and communication with Brazil, the giant on our southern flank. We need the infrastructure to handle the anticipated boom.
We cannot afford to wait until we are literally overwhelmed. However, it is no use asking private developers to speculate: it is the task of Government to prepare for such eventualities. The relocation of our administrative infrastructure away from Georgetown, a la Brasilia, to an interior location along the road to Brazil will generate several synergies.
The new capital will serve as the nucleus around which others can be encouraged to invest and thereby further relieving the pressures on Georgetown. Just as importantly it will force those occupying the seats of power – which now includes a heady Opposition – to become enmeshed within the realities of what it will take to actually develop our long-lauded “interior potential”. Then, who knows, maybe if politicians are not promised automatic enjoyment of the bright lights of Georgetown, it might dampen our insidious political competition somewhat?