I just returned to New York after a brief visit to my native land. Except for the thieving customs official/s in Trinidad who seemed to like a few pieces of my gold jewellery and a few bottles of cologne more than me, my vacation was most enjoyable. I met old friends and made new ones; and despite the hard economic times there, the traditional Guyanese hospitality takes a back seat to no-one. I was grateful that I arrived during the mango season, and had my fill of Buxton Spice and all my favorite authentic Guyanese food.
During my stay, I travelled mainly throughout West Demerara and Georgetown, and had the opportunity to drive over the much talked about Berbice River Bridge on my way to the Corentyne River. Although there are some obvious improvements to the roads, it seems to me that the bare minimum was done by the government to show ‘development’; and the Berbice River Bridge is no exception. This bridge is bumpy, too narrow, and looks like an accident waiting to happen. Surely one can argue that the bridge is a vast improvement to the transportation system there, but anything that’s worth doing, is worth doing well; and sadly the Guyanese people seem to be contented with whatever little handout they receive from the government.
There are several areas of concern that I will be emphasizing on in letters to follow, but I will briefly mention a few that stand out:
Georgetown, the Garbage City:
Georgetown used to be known as the ‘Garden City of the Caribbean’, now throughout the city, one can see piles of garbage littering the streets, and blocking drains and trenches.
And I’m sure that government officials are aware of this because I took several photographs of huge piles of garbage in front of the Parliament Building and the Supreme Court, and in the canal in front of City Hall.
Maybe to some this is an acceptable practice, but to most Guyanese, and certainly those returning home and to visitors to the country, this is simply nastiness that will feed the rodent population and contribute to the spread of disease.
of the vendors:
There is no doubt, the vendors have taken over Georgetown and absolutely no effort is being made to take control of this unsightliness. Pedestrians are forced to navigate their way through traffic on the streets, because the sidewalks are taken over by vendors. And at the end of the day, all the garbage is left behind.
A sure sign that the country’s economy is not as good as we’re led to believe, is when some of its citizens have been reduced to begging. Everywhere I went, I was solicited by an alarming amount of children and some adults for money.
After discussions with some of these kids (one girl was only 12 years old), I am convinced that they do so with the full knowledge of their parents.
A breakdown in our moral values:
While at a popular hotel in the city having a drink at the bar just before lunch, I was totally shocked when a young woman stepped out of the pool and approached the bar wearing a G-String in a public place.
From the back, she was completely naked, and did not leave much to the imagination from the front either. Instinctively, I looked to see if there were kids around, and was grateful that there were none.
This woman looked so comfortable walking around flaunting her body, that I feel sure she would not have covered herself up even if kids were there.
Is this what our values have been reduced to? I strongly urge the management of hotels in the country to enforce an acceptable dress code at their poolsides to protect our youth and to guard against a further decline in our moral values. In conclusion, the few new buildings I’ve seen cannot compensate for the many more condemned (or should be condemned) buildings that litter Georgetown, and one should not be confused in believing that this is a sign of progress. Unemployment is at an unacceptable high, our once beautiful city of Georgetown has deteriorated immensely, and our people no longer seem to have a voice; and if they do, is it that the PPP/C Administration feel that they’re too powerful to listen to the citizens that put them there?
In 2011, we will know the answer to that question.
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