Kaieteur News – In my compound, the huge garbage truck was facing me and I just needed a tiny space on the parapet to proceed. But that parapet had huge boulders sitting on the edge of the parapet in close proximity to the road. This happened on two occasions.
This is a ubiquitous annoyance throughout Guyana. But it is also a dangerous thing. It is dangerous in the sense that the encumbrances literally stop the police, and private security services from overtaking a criminal vehicle that they are in pursuit of. The fire trucks will have a difficult task negotiating those boulders. The ambulance will also be hindered.
Minister Edghill announced that today his ministry will be removing all types on parapet encumbrances throughout Guyana. I quote his words and I am asking the minister, the president, the entire Cabinet, civil society and the media landscape to pay meticulous attention to his words. Before I quote him, I am directly appealing to his conscience to be fair and not to discriminate against the poor and powerless and the ordinary folks.
Here is what he said: “If somebody comes out with a dog food stand or a cart selling food or somebody decides to go on the reserve and wash a car and call it a car wash, should we allow that, as a country, to stop Guyana’s development?…We can’t allow that … As of Monday, the Ministry of Public Works will begin to move derelicts, sand, stone, debris; everything that is in the path and is encumbering the road shoulders throughout the length and breadth of Guyana… we have to bring an end to the lawlessness while we develop Guyana.”
One can hardly disagree with those thoughts if a country is going to have law and order. But law and order must never be class-based. State action against defaulters must never be class-based. Righting wrongs must never be class-based. Developing a country to achieve modernisation must never be class-based. Distribution of justice must never be class-based.
If a citizen put a stand on the parapet, selling dog food near the edge of the roadway hindering traffic that is wrong. If you put pillars on the parapet outside your home near the edge of the roadway, that is wrong too. If you take the parapet outside your home and utilise every inch of the parapet by cultivating a humongous garden on it that juts out onto the street, hindering the free flow of traffic, then that is as wrong as the dog-food seller.
Go to Peter Rose Street, one corner south of Lamaha Street and you will see two houses opposite each other that have used up the entire parapet in front of their homes. So large is one of those floral architectures that it is sitting on the edge of the street. It is possible that snakes and bees have made a cocoon in there.
I don’t know who own those places. For all you know, it could be someone I know well. But my fear is that it is located in an area where the rich and powerful live and in those fancy districts, the bulldozer will treat those folks as untouchables. In many suburbs in Georgetown, owners have fenced off the entire parapets. If one citizen cannot put a stand on the parapet and sell dog food, then how can another person fence off the entire parapet?
I don’t want a confrontation with Minister Edghill again. We had several of those in the past to the extent that he filed a contempt of court writ against me that was worded in such a way that once I was convicted, there could not have been a fine or reprimand. I had to face jail time. Justice Insannaly ruled in my favour. I was spared a jail sentence.
I have left that world behind. Time and age have intervened. I hope that Minister Edghill would be conscientious enough and practice absolutely no class discrimination in the execution of this policy today. The ubiquitous encumbrance is an eyesore that any human who live in this country can see.
There are people who occupy the government’s reserves with little workshops doing this and that. There are wealthy people and there are people with status who occupy the reserves too; not with little workshops but with well-painted boulders and other things. That is wrong too.
I say openly with the most intense pain in my heart, I fear this policy today may not target everyone but those without reach in society. My pen is to protect such people. I call on Minister Edghill and the government of Guyana, let justice be done, and seen to be done.
(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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