Kaieteur News – Georgetown is a mess. At this time of the year when everything used to be evergreen and scenic, Georgetown is slushy, dirty and chaotic.
When you look at the mess and chaos, you realize how the lack of appreciation of history has been responsible for the city’s decline. If there was greater understanding of how well the colonial authorities kept the city, despite the haphazard manner in which it was developed, Georgetown would not have been in the deplorable state that it is in today.
The unbridled pursuit of money and the lack of leadership are responsible also for the city’s social decay. People are out to make money and care little about their surroundings.
Leadership has failed. The PNC/R has been in control of the City Council since Independence, and it has destroyed what was once the finest city in the Caribbean.
The city’s traffic situation is out of control. Georgetown was simply not built to accommodate the number of vehicles which now traverse its streets.
But do not only blame, the fact that more people can now afford to own vehicles. This was always expected to happen. Blame also the Central Planning and Housing Authority for its failure to develop proper zoning regulations.
Businesses are being allowed to prop up all around. And there is absolutely no mandatory requirement for provisions to be made for parking. So in some narrow streets, customers park wherever they feel. The indiscriminate parking is destroying our parapets.
Drainage is poor in the city. The briefest of high intensity rain leads to a flood because there is no proper run-off of the water and the storage capacity of our canals have been seriously compromised.
On North Road, there are businesses which are being allowed to encroach on the already narrow canal. This encroachment is to accommodate customer parking. Persons who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase property are being allowed to narrow a vital drainage canal simply because no one is insisting that they spend the same hundreds of million to provide parking for their customers.
The drainage outside of State House where the President lives has been seriously compromised. They drain slowly or not at all. Something is blocked somewhere and solving this problem is like rocket science for those entrusted with this task.
It is in times like these that you miss a man like Bunny Fernandes, the former head of the shipping firm, John Fernandes Limited. If someone had said to Bunny that there is a problem with drainage in the city, Bunny would have walked around the city and examined where the problem was. He would then take action to solve the problem. He was a hands-on man.
Today if you appoint someone to examine the problem, that person would have to assemble a team of engineers. Maps would have to be brought out from their cupboards and dusted. The gradient of the drains would have to be calculated. A visit, with cameras in tow, would have to be made to the outfall channels. The engineers would have to meet, measure the lengths and depth of the canals and then decide that they really do not have the answers to the problem.
As such, a team from Holland would be invited to assess the problem. The members of the team would then talk to the same clueless engineers and then the team would submit a long report.
That report will then be incorporated into another report. By the time the final report is finished, the rainy season would have ended and the report would be so massive that nobody would have time to read it.
Bunny would have simply gone to work to fix the problem rather than spending months planning how to do so. Bunny would fix the problem because he had an understanding of the history of the city and the way it was. He knew that the problem could not be the lack of infrastructure but rather human activity which has compromised this infrastructure.
Bunny got things done the old-fashioned way. He broke a big problem into its composite elements, turning it into a series of simple problems. And then he applied practical solutions to each of these simple problems. He was a fixer not a report writer.
Our leaders see a big problem and they seek a big solution. This is why things hardly ever get done and when they do, they take so long.
Georgetown is in a mess because everything, which has to be fixed has to involve a contract. It was never this way. There was a time when things were simpler, cleaner and less chaotic.
But do not tell that to our leaders. They have no appreciation of the history. They snub at the old-fashioned way of fixing things.
(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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