Ms. Ferguson: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Before getting into my presentation, I wish to rebut some points which the previous speaker alluded to. What the previous speaker sought to do, in his presentation, was, more or less, castigate the M&CC. At this time, this motion is not about what is actually going at the M&CC, but what we can do from a political standpoint.
I wish to remind my fellow colleagues on the eastern side of this House that the Mayor, some years ago, made a proposal to this very Government on how the Council can garner additional funds. This proposal was for the Lottery Fund and this Government saw it fit to take it away from the Mayor and City Council.
The previous speaker referred to the management of the Mayor and City Council misusing the funds and, more or less, using it for what it should not be used for. Let me remind this very House that it has been reported time and time again that corruption does not only exist at the level of the M&CC, but it happens in all governmental Ministries.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to give support and to add my voice to the motion, Restoration of Georgetown, standing in the name of the Hon. Member, Mrs. Volda Lawrence. The current state of our capital city is under siege with the huge compilation of garbage, vagrants and junkies, even in our own surroundings at the Parliament Office, Public Buildings, which is unsightly. It is public knowledge that the deplorable state of Georgetown with respect to the garbage situation cannot get much worse and, if decisive and drastic measures are not taken to deal with it, in a few years the city would become virtually covered with garbage.
In a recent letter written by Retired Major General Joe Singh and carried in the Stabroek News dated Saturday, 2nd February, 2013, on pages 6 and 7 respectively, he alluded to the fact that:
“Our collective citizenry, impacted by the violence meted out to the environment and the health of citizens by the dumping of garbage, particularly of the non-biodegradable kind, alongside our streets, pathways and trails, in our canals, rivers and on our seashore.”
The Guyana Chronicle, dated 2nd February, 2013, carried an article under the head, “Addressing the garbage problem”. Therein the writer made mention that it is a reality that we have to place less focus on how and why we arrived at this deplorable situation and concentrate our efforts on putting an end to it. The article begged to state the following: what solutions, strategies or systems we come up with must include a preventative component because, in the first place, if garbage was properly disposed of by individuals, we would not have arrived at such an acute situation.
Mr. Speaker, for too long the enforcing of littering laws have been neglected and so it has become the culture to dump our garbage through the minibus windows, into the drains and streets, et cetera. As such, this culture has become engrained and acceptable. Also, little attention has been placed on education and public awareness as regards littering and proper disposal of garbage. On this note, it would be useful if such topics are included in the curriculum of our school system. If we inculcate the right attitude in the young minds, it is most likely to remain with them when they become adults.
In an article carried in the 8th August, 2011, Kaieteur News headlined, “Garbage continues to take over central Georgetown”, this is what the writer said:
“Garbage continues to be dumped in the streets of Georgetown and mainly on Orange Walk in front of the entrance to the Bourda Market and stallholders at pains to continue operating as the Mayor and City Council continues to be hampered by a lack of funds. The Central Government when they see the garbage mounting in the streets… More and more stallholders have ceased operations since working in such an environment is being considered a health hazard and the situation is also preventing customers from visiting the market. For those who cannot afford to close their stalls, they are forced to work in the midst of this pileup of refuse just to make the market rental payments.”
I will quote what one stallholder said:
“Yuh think this right? We can get sick walking and working here. People ain’t want buy from we at the back here. The garbage is a turnoff. Give it couple more days and people gonna think this is a next dumpsite like how Le Repentir was.”
Another disgruntled businessman who operates opposite the Bourda Market garbage pile complained that the current situation with the stench and build-up of flies is bad for his business.
“Customers are not coming around now. It isn’t appealing for them to have to walk in the garbage and breathe in this awful air. We are paying our rates and taxes and the stallholders here have to pay rental fees every month. This is not fair to us.”
I recall many comments from my elderly grandmother who told me and my siblings about how beautiful Georgetown was in comparison to what it is today. I reside within the Bourda district and my house is bounded by an alleyway. I can safely say here this evening that over a decade that alleyway has not been cleared. It is currently a forested site. I would like to say to you, Hon. Member, that I do clean my area on a daily basis.
The good Book talks about old men and old women again sitting in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. The streets of the city will be filed with boys and girls playing in it. This was how Georgetown was at one time. I can recall, vividly, that as a young teenager growing up in the Bourda district, I used to play in the alleyways; I used to play on the malls. Today, these areas are more or less taken over by debris.
The only time we recognise that the massive cleanup exercise is being undertaken in this country, I can recall quite clearly the recent republic anniversary we had. Church Street, Bourda area, North Road and all the trenches were filled with garbage. I observed just two weeks before the Republic Anniversary big trucks with men with forks and spades coming to clear the trench area and clean the malls. The malls I once used to play on have now become a garbage site. Since then I have not observed the Ministry of Public Works or whoever was mandated; maintaining these areas. As I said before, we all have to come together and get the city clear.
This motion is a simple one, all that this motion is seeking to address is that we come together as citizens and get the city clean. In a press release carried by the United States Embassy on 14th September, 2012 in celebration of Inter-American Cleanliness and Citizenship, I guess Hon. Members in this House would have remembered that the American Embassy along with its Ambassador went into a few areas in South Georgetown where they assisted citizens in getting their areas clean. The area that came out on top was Tucville and the citizens were awarded. They were awarded for their efforts. We as citizens of this nation and leaders of this nation can take the very pattern and ensure that our country is clean.
I strongly believe the best solution in getting this city clean is this: there are men, strong healthy men, who might be in prison for simple larceny, domestic violence or some other petty crime committed so rather than having them in the prison feeding them with tax payers money bring them out and get them involved in this whole clean up exercise. I trust that the Government would heed to my suggestion.
In concluding, I would like to strongly support and I am calling on this entire House to support the motion. Let us come together and restore Georgetown to its former glory.
Thank you very much. [Applause]