by Zena Henry
Business owners in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, are being warned that the central and local governments would be going after them if they continue to breach laws and regulations governing construction and drainage.
Authorities say several proprietors and building owners could be in for a rude awakening as the Central Government and the Georgetown Municipality seem determined to prevent the continued illegal blocking or covering of drains, illegal construction or erection of structures on parapets and reserve areas that must be accessed to facilitate the cleaning of drains, canals and other drainage systems.
During a press conference hosted by Minister of Infrastructure David Patterson and City Mayor Hamilton Green, the city’s chief citizen suggested that with the change in central government at the May 11, 2015 general elections all businesses would have to comply with the law.
“The (city) engineer understands that this is a new day and that no businessman is immune from this new arrangement,” said Green.
“At this stage… in the interest of citizens and their health, we cannot and will not tolerate any indiscipline by anyone… business places will have to comply with the law,” he added.
Under the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) government Mayor Green and councillors had complained bitterly about micro- management by the then government, deliberate acts to keep the Council broke and the imposition of an unqualified Town Clerk that took the management of the Council squarely on her shoulders.
The Mayor reflected that during that period that laws in relation to building codes and such matters were being ignored and the Council had been unable to address that matter because of a shortage of cash.
However, with the country’s annual May-June rainy season at its peak, flooding is not strange to the city. Engineers have complained that the illegal covering of drains and gutters have made reducing floods difficult as the outflows cannot be cleaned easily. Several proprietors have even incorporated Council sites as part of their establishment.
The Mayor said he met with the Officer corps of the municipality and they were instructed to, “do your work.” He said on Monday he spoke with the ordinary staffers and hinted that the relax-time is over and from Wednesday morning they will follow working hours assigned to them years ago.
Public Infrastructure Minister Patterson said that while he is urgently trying to get his citizens dry following the weekend flood; he has recommended a holistic approach to the city issues as a matter of long term redress.
He said in relation to the illegal activities that he would not expect persons to be doing this now and pointed out that ways must be sought to undo what some businesses have already done.
Officials say central government and City Hall would soon have to update outdated laws that fail to adequately punish offenders with hefty fines and jail terms.
Numerous citizens have for years ignored zoning laws, building codes, road and litter laws.