Kaieteur News – The Brickdam Police Station was one of the many structures designed by renowned Maltese Architect, Cesar Castellani. That structure was destroyed by fire a few Saturdays ago and became another of Castellani’s major local creations to be destroyed.
The other included the Palms Geriatric Home and the old New Amsterdam Hospital. The towers of the now destroyed Sacred Heart Church were also said to have been designed by Castellani.
According to the National Trust, the main building in the compound of the Brickdam Police Station Complex is believed to have been designed and constructed by Cesar Castellani and bears a decorative cast iron and a weather vane atop the roof – which is one of its main architectural features.
But despite bearing the features of Cesar Castellani, the Brickdam Police Station had long lost any architectural appeal. The entire compound, which stretched for one block from east to west and from north to south, was crowded with buildings which disfigured Castellani’s centrepiece.
The Brickdam Police Station was not an inviting place, as most police stations are in Guyana. From the moment you entered the gate, the foul stench which emanated from the lockup at the front and eastern section of the compound assailed your nostrils. If you did not feel like puking, then you know you had a strong constitution.
If you were going to report a crime, you had to enter into a ground floor office which was in poor state with officers sitting behind a counter at desks which had seen better days. The stairs leading to the Certifying Office were unpainted and unvarnished and many of the counters at the station used to be covered with cheap linoleum. The staff worked in poor conditions in that station.
There were far too many buildings located in that compound. The Traffic Office was located there, as were the Brickdam CID Office, a smelly and stink lockup worse than a medieval dungeon, the Impact Base and even the pits which were used for inspecting vehicles. At the western end of the compound were the barracks, which should never have been so close to the adjoining roadway. Quite a few incidents of theft and violence were known to have occurred in that barracks.
The lockup was a hellhole. If you treat prisoners like animals, they will behave like animals and this is what happened at Brickdam recently. No human being, no matter what his or her crime, should have never had to be detained in such sub-human conditions.
Brickdam Police Station was no better than a rat hole. It was unfit to house the headquarters of the largest Police Division.
The fire which destroyed the Brickdam Police Station was a terrible tragedy but it was a tragedy waiting to happen because of the numerous buildings in that compound.
It will cost the government billions of dollars to rebuild that facility. But whatever goes up there must not resemble that overcrowded monstrosity which was the former Brickdam Police Station. And before anything is built, the police have to get their maintenance programme right.
The police have a serious problem with maintaining their buildings. A large wooden building next to the Officers’ Mess in Eve Leary was pulled down and rebuilt in concrete. It is a sad indictment of the Police that it keeps its stations in such deplorable condition while other structures such as its Sports Club and Officers’ Mess are much better maintained.
The historic wooden which once was the Brickdam Police Station has been levelled. It is not likely, nor advisable, that any wooden structure should replace it.
Georgetown is too crowed and ill-designed a city to allow for any more massive wooden structures. The risk of fire and the high cost of maintaining such structure should act as a disincentive to building grand wooden structures.
The services offered by the Brickdam Police Station should be decentralised. The Certifying Office should be moved to another location as should the Impact Base. Since the station is near to the commercial zone, it would be suitable for the traffic office to be located therein but that compound needs space to breathe, something which did not happen with the now destroyed facility.
A part of the country’s architectural heritage was lost in that fire a few Saturdays ago but the appreciation for that heritage had long disappeared given the deplorable conditions which existed at that compound on Brickdam.
(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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