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Georgetown’s garbage crisis: Step in Central Government

Eye on the Issues by GHK Lall

Here we go again.

Reports are that the two private contractors, Puran Brothers and Cevons Waster Management, are uttering clear warnings that they would have no choice but to discontinue garbage collection work on behalf of City Hall.  It is the usual reason, which needs no introduction: they are owed hundreds of millions, and with no credible indication of payment forthcoming.  Something has to give, or else it will be a very memorable December season.

Welcome to Guyana….

Clearly, the companies, with costs and obligations, cannot go on like this indefinitely and repeatedly.  Clearly, beleaguered citizens cannot continue to fear for their health, and the struggling hard-won ambience of their once again threatened communities.  And clearly, City Hall is not equipped in multiple ways to deal with this now seasonal Mexican standoff between itself and the out-of-pocket private contractors.  Business-whether private or public, cannot be run this way for long; and so too this gambling with the health of residents.

It has long been obvious, rhetoric and laughable protestations notwithstanding, that City Hall, as currently constituted, possesses neither the competence nor the care nor the interest to manage the welfare of its captive (and willing) constituency.  To use an all-purpose Guyanese word (might be Jamaican) most of the overseers exhibit a palpable “dotishness.”  And this is being charitable.  No amount of empty words from them, and no volume of contemptible sound from those same officials, can obscure the jarring reality.  They come across as arrogant, defensive, careless, reckless, clueless, and helpless.

No citizen, whose marbles are intact, should allow this abomination to be perpetuated.  More pointedly, that should be no right thinking and voting citizen.  Even as this is written, internal red lights blink and warn that City Hall is but a microcosm of the self-destructive nature and endless electoral irresponsibility, if not asininity, of too many in this nation.  Impacted citizens contribute to feeding the very same beast that devours family, peace of mind, and concerted attempts to introduce standards and cleanliness and decency.  They vote for losers, who turn around and make losers of those same voters by playing Russian roulette with their existence.

Having said all of this, what is the solution?  All things considered, there is only one: it is that Central Government must move authoritatively to reassure citizens by assuming some measure of final responsibility for the sensitive and vital undertaking of timely, thorough, and consistent garbage removal.  If not, all the monies spent on the Dutch for flood remediation, all the plans for a tourist hub, and all the visions for a pristine capital city are wasted and rendered comedic.

It is imperative that central government guard against making the pronouncement-cum-wish of a former Minister of Local Government come true during their own tenure at the helm.  Do not let the man be transformed from a pariah to a prophet.  Central Government has no choice but to arrogate onto itself the unwanted responsibility for garbage collection.  It can be appreciated that this opens the door to a possible avalanche of other incoming hot-button, quality of life matters that City Hall mandarins might only be too glad (privately) to relinquish to central government.  This could include road works and drainage, among other things.  It is more enamored of, and wants to focus on, meters and construction; after all, that is where the money is.  To those unclear about that, just recall Willie Sutton.

The bottom line is this: this nonsense must stop and stop now.  The contractors must be paid.  The city must be kept clean and free and healthy.  And a start must be made in the thinking as to how to oust those who have failed so miserably, and are clearly the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And that is any time and all the time.  Central Government is now watched and waited upon.