I read Mr. Royston King’s letter in KN 1/30/2012;”The state of our surroundings tells a lot about our values”. I can empathize with Mr. King and as the PRO for the City Council of Georgetown his must be a thankless task.
What we have allowed to happen, to what was once proudly proclaimed the Garden City speaks volumes about all of us. However, in the final analysis, the responsibility must rest with those who are elected to manage our affairs. I am not saying there is no civic responsibility, but I am placing responsibility on the elected and civic leaders.
I have had the great privilege to live in some of the most beautiful cities in the world, and there was a common thread that was responsible for their great beauty and general cleanliness; Strong municipal government and enforceable local ordinances. In locales where these two components were lacking or weak I witnessed a similar situation like we have in our capital city. The fact that we have a total breakdown of the rule of law in Guyana, along with a Ministry of Local Government that treats jurisdictions like Fiefdoms does not help, instead it hampers the development of strong municipalities and takes away powers that are usually vested in local government leaders.
To attempt to correct any of the problems that now plague our city, we have to first admit that we have a serious problem and be willing to accept assistance from persons who have the knowledge and skill set to put systems in place to begin the heavy lift that will be required to turn this situation around.
Some of the components that will be required will be enacting strong local ordinances that can be enforced. An enforcement arm (City Constabulary) that can garner revenue through issuing citations and Code Enforcement officers who can issue subpoenas will be necessary first steps. This, of necessity, must be backed by a Municipal court or courts that will ensure that offences are properly and swiftly adjudicated.
Education must go hand in hand with law enforcement, and all stakeholders must be involved. Schools, places of worship, media; public service messages; everything in the arsenal must be thrown at this problem. The City government, local merchants who make their money and operate in the city, the central government, civic organizations; non-governmental organizations must all take responsibility for a return from the current state of anarchy that now passes for solid waste management in the city of Georgetown.
Finally, there must be a comprehensive plan for solid waste management that includes landfills; land reclamation (using garbage to reclaim swampland etc), recycling centres. There is no excuse for not having more landfills to take care of the city’s waste and there is no way a landfill should close at five in the afternoon.
There must be education programs on the benefits of recycling and centres for the collection of plastics, paper, and cardboard products. Citizens should be given an incentive to recycle and the city must have the resources to go after collectible revenues owed to them. In the end, however, it comes back to us the citizens and yes, Mr. King is right, it is about our values.
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