I am pleading with the Minister of Communities, the NDCs, the mayors and members of the Local Democratic Councils to open up Guyana. An example of what I mean is the 24-hour medical facilities that are spread around the country.
Just imagine if these were not in existence, many on the outskirts of Georgetown would have had to travel to Georgetown Public Hospital for medical care. I am pleading for the authorities to expand that vision to include other services.
Right now Georgetown and Vreed-en-Hoop are overrun by shoppers and sellers. Imagine someone living in Linden, Timehri, Parika, Wales on the WBD; Crane, Dem Amstel, the Ruimveldts, Lodge, Kitty, Diamond, Grove, just to name a few communities have to travel to Big Market, Bourda Market, Vreed-en-Hoop Market, Regent and Robb Streets to obtain groceries, kitchen utensils, fruits and vegetables etc. Why are they not obtaining these in their own communities?
Many of our leaders visit Florida, New York and other cities. Do they see such vending as seen in Guyana? In Florida, the answer has been strip malls. There is no pavement vending. The Big Apple got rid of this menace that was hamstringing 14th, 23rd, and 42nd Street and Liberty Ave in Richmond Hill, Queens many years ago.
Our leaders should start making these strip malls in every community. They do not have to be sophisticated as those in Florida.
Lands should be cleared and paved and a range of one-storey buildings be built forming a crescent then rent these out to sellers of perishables and other supermarket items. Each strip mall must be able to accommodate at least 10 buildings and parking for at least 20 cars. They must be accessible to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. They do not have to be lining the main roads ‘hugging’ the communities.
Now, if these are built wisely and offer excellent service and good products, then shoppers working in Georgetown wouldn’t have buy certain items in Georgetown when these same items can be had in their communities cheaper. Eventually, the congestion and lawlessness that’s now taking place around Bourda, Stabroek and Vreed-en-Hoop will cease.
What will become of these itinerant vendors congesting Bourda, Stabroek, Regent and Robb Streets, etc? When shoppers cease buying from them in these areas their only alternative will be to vend in these strip malls. Because there will be more than two strip malls in each or every other community, many will decide to stick close to home and still earn a living.
What then are the advantages of these strip malls apart from those stated above? (i) Moms and Dads do not have to travel long distances to obtain basic commodities. (ii) The authorities gain income from leasing out renting space in these malls; (iii) Local producers do not have to travel long distances to sell their produce; (iv) there will be a more equitable distribution of goods and services. Wholesalers will be birthed.
(v)They will get rid of all the street side vending springing up all across the landscape. This is where enforcement of local laws will stop the free for all that has been taking place.
The disadvantages are (i) the possibility of big money / political influencers grabbing the spots in the malls and then renting them or leasing them sky high. To offset this, a renter/lessee should be living in the community, not have a home in the community. (ii) Noise pollution. There is an open and close time. (iii) Crime. The remedy is continual police patrol.
More can be said, but trust me if strip malls are enacted, we will plunge ourselves into the 21st century and are prepared for the influx the oil boom will create.
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