Aug 12, 2010 Editorial
The garbage crisis which threatened to overwhelm every aspect of our lives, has received an increased level of attention over the past few days, and there is obvious relief in a besieged capital.
There are most ambitious plans to beautify Georgetown, with the Stabroek Market area and the seawall being the prime targets. These plans were announced at the launching of the country’s first International Building Expo.
The artists’ impressions were on display. These did seem a bit over the top, but that could be dealt with in another editorial.
According to the plans, a section of the seawall would be developed to include more benches, steps down to the water’s edge, trees and lights. Behind the Stabroek Market area, a boardwalk will be built to include night lights, benches and rails.
In front of Stabroek Market, a huge fountain will be the centerpiece, with the entire tarmac redone with special paving and benches and lights installed.
This all sounds encouraging, but let us be quite frank, the road to recovery is paved with so much more. Any plan to beautify Georgetown cannot be fully successful unless it deals effectively with the infestation of the city and its environs by roaming destitutes, many of whom are drug addicts and mentally unstable persons.
On any given day, and especially at weekends, this dishevelled crew converges on the seawall, and the Stabroek Market area, to beg, sift through litter, steal and generally make thorough nuisances of themselves. The wall and seaside have become havens of the homeless with disastrous results.
Therefore part of the seawall development should be set aside to deal with the growing down-at-the-heel posse that disturbs seawall visitors and detracts from the ambience of one of Guyana’s most cherished landmarks.
The seawall has always been a magnet for various social problems and the derelicts who frequent the area make all these problems worse. One of the worst of these problems is chronic littering – now dwarfed by the city-wide heaps. Those who go to the seawall tend to dispose of their garbage anywhere they please, even when there are garbage disposal receptacles available. This becomes irresistible fodder for a multitude of homeless people as well as scavenging stray animals. And we reiterate, this is happening all around the city.
The down-and-out gang scatters the garbage far and wide and it never gets cleaned up. This creates disgusting sights and smells that are definitely not for those who have weak stomachs. It is not uncommon for seawall visitors, including young children, to stumble upon decomposing animals, used condoms, used baby napkins, used female sanitary pads and the like. In addition, many destitutes and others who should know better evidently think the seawall is a place where they can relieve themselves on the spot whenever they get the urge. Consequently the seawall is often despoiled by the sight and smell of various human body wastes.
Often solid human waste just lies there in plain sight and with the smell travelling a long way on the trade winds, until nature gets rid of it in its own time.
There is no doubt that this is a problem that did not arise overnight and cannot be solved quickly. This is now even more challenging with the enormous task at hand. It is vitally important to address it as early as possible and engage all the relevant agencies in a timely manner. It might be necessary to appoint a special task force to deal with this problem, which is multi-dimensional and would require a massive outlay of funds and resources, as well as a carefully structured and well-coordinated effort by all stakeholders.
There is no doubt that the beautification of the seawall and other areas of Georgetown would be worthwhile and would bring substantial and long-lasting benefits to the people of Guyana.
But the roaming destitutes at the seawall and other areas signify the massive social problems the nation has, and these must be most carefully weighed in the development equation.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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