I get emails more than the occasional ones in which well-intentioned people would tell me that they see some of the things in developed countries that I lament in Guyana. My traditional response would be if the mainstream media expose these faults, they will be removed; not so in Guyana.
Here is another sad tale that I am repeating in these commentaries. I live on the Railway Embank, right next to CARICOM. About six years ago, before the APNU+AFC government came into being, a part of the road was being repaired. The Ministry of Works put a sign a few yards east of my home that read; “No trucks and lorries allowed, bridge under repair.” The rehabilitation was completed more than six years ago but the sign remains to this day.
One Saturday morning, I was going to the National Park and I observed a suspicious stop of a goods-laden canter-truck by a police car. I drove up, the police drove away. I enquired from the driver. He said the police showed him the sign and said he should not be on the Railway Embankment and they asked for money.
I drove behind, and caught up with the police in Kitty. I told them that the sign is ancient history. Trucks and lorries are allowed on the Railway Embankment. They denied the bribery request and refused further discussion. That sign is still there. Rogue cops must still be using it to extract money from innocent citizens.
We live in a country that will soon disappear. I say this unapologetically. Years after road repairs were effected on Young Street a sign put there at the time at the junction with Camp Road warned drivers not to cross over from Camp Road to Young Street. Leaders in the PPP and APNU+AFC governments, engineers working with the relevant ministry, and senior traffic officers ignored that misdirecting sign for six years. It was just in a random conversation with public engineer, Sherod Parkinson that caused the sign to be removed.
Where is the crucial fault-line that Guyanese society rests on? For decades now, two public servants have become virtually invincible. There doesn’t seem to be any relevant law under which these two office holders could be removed. There doesn’t seem to be a regulatory framework through which these men could be made accountable to higher authorities.
In Guyana the most brilliant surgeon at the Georgetown Hospital, the most learned professor at UG, the most qualified engineer at GPL, the most decorated soldier in the army can be dismissed through a legal process. There are legal frameworks at GPL, in the army, at the Ministry of Health, at UG to remove the above-named office-holders. In Guyana, it doesn’t appear that systems exist to discipline and dismiss the Town Clerk and the City Engineer.
The Mayor heads an elected mini-parliament which is controlled by councillors. It is open for debate whether the Mayor and/or the Council can discipline or dismiss the holders of these two positions. Let’s quote the Mayor on his disgust with the three persons that run the City Engineer’s Office; “That department, it’s shameful, it’s a disgrace, that department really got a curse…get a pastor, majee, and pray y’all out…I know about the three stooges but we will have to come up with a name for you guys. Yes, three blind mice…you know something named fed up? The mayor is fed up of the Engineer’s Department.”
APNU city councillor Heston Boston chipped in with words that have to make investors feel this county is dead. Boston told his fellow councillor that he thinks the City Engineer has consistently displayed an uncaring attitude, a disregard for the council and in his opinion, City Engineer, Colvern Venture’s attitude is one of disrespect to the city council.
Now any reasonable mind after reading those words will have to conclude that this gentleman can do what he wants. But he is a public servant. He has formidable authority. This man has to decide when he is going to sign off on your construction permit. The Mayor said that officials of a certain commercial bank have been claiming that Venture’s office has them on a “sickening merry go round.” This is investment that a public servant allegedly chooses to delay.
The Local Government Commission (LGC) through a judicial commission of enquiry has fired the Town Clerk. The court ruled the dismissal was unlawful that the LGC cannot fire the town clerk. Who in the entirety of Guyana can discipline the Town Clerk and the City Engineer? Welcome to the dead zone named Guyana.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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