Below is a press release issued by Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in response to criticisms to its Clean – Up Campaign
Following comments made by Joseph Harmon, member of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Deputy Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green to sections of the media where Harmon ridiculed the Government of Guyana’s “Clean-Up My Country” Programme, and where Mrs. Patricia Chase-Green, Deputy Mayor, said that the $500M which was given to Local Government to clean up the Capital City- Georgetown – “should have been given to City Hall to spend”, and that “the Minister of Local Government did not make proper contact with the engineers of the City – Georgetown” have raised some concern.
Joseph Harmon, in his remarks said that the cleanup is “slouch money given to people to say PPP cares”. Minister Whittaker, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, has condemned such remarks. This statement is seen as another plot by the opposition to thwart any progress initiated by Government to bring betterment and sustenance of livelihood to the people of Guyana.
The module employed by the Ministry to implement the “Clean-Up My Country” Programme sough to engage residents from the communities through consultations where they submitted proposals outlining the works that are required to be undertaken in order to improve the environment. For each community, the workers were mobilized by the Community Coordinators, and they were remunerated for their labour. Hence, it is disgusted to listen to the APNU ridicule the Government of Guyana on every possible opportunity that is given to the people to improve their lives and to provide income for sustenance of family. Already, under the clean-up programme, thousands of residents are employed as Community Enhancement Workers in 32 communities across Georgetown. By the end of November, several more communities which have not yet been cleaned will be signed up for the programme.
On the other hand, Patricia Chase-Green has criticised the Clean-Up My Country Programme by saying “it was not effectively done”, and “the money ($500M) should have been given to City Hall to spend”. This raises some concerns since City Hall has exhibited very poor spending habits and demonstrated their incompetence when it comes to managing their finances.
Further, the Deputy Mayor, in her remarks said that the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker, did not make “proper contact with the engineers of the City – Georgetown with regards to the Clean-Up My Country Programme”. This has raised more concerns at the Ministry and further to that, condemnation of such utterances of Mrs. Chase-Green since it is a blatant misrepresentation and twist of facts.
It should be pointed out that during the initial planning of the Georgetown Clean-Up Programme, the City Engineer was integrally involved in the planning of the cleanup of communities. Further to that, it was with his guidance and technical expertise that main canals were identified to be de-silted.
Minister Whittaker in his address today at a press conference said that the $500M allocated to the cleanup of Georgetown was never intended to prevent flooding, instead, it was intended to improve the aesthetics and sanitation of the City by way of getting rid of the over grown vegetation and garbage around the Capital City. However, during consultations, community coordinators made representation to improve drainage within the communities and this was facilitated.
Minister Whittaker said that if the efforts under the clean-up programme were not undertaken where tons of garbage were removed from communities within the City, today’s flooding would have been worst.
Minister Whittaker also pointed out that the City’s drainage system is over 100 years old and it was only built to accommodate 1 ½ inches of rainfall per day. Today, in mere hours, the rainfall exceeded that amount. In some areas there were in excess of 6 inches of rainfall. Minister Whittaker elaborated that under the “Clean-Up My Country” Programme drains in communities where widen where necessary and more depth was created to discharge the water at a faster rate. As a result, over all, water is receding faster from the communities.
Minister Whittaker along Minister Robson Benn and Town Clerk , Carol Sooba visited several kokers in the City to ensure they are working effectively. According to the City Engineer, “all kokers were opened on time”.
Georgetown was put on priority list for cleanup since Central Government saw the continuous reluctance of the Georgetown Municipal to improve the sanitation and aesthetics of the City. So to give the Council half of a billion dollars to spend, one would wonder what would have been the end product.
With regards to calls made by the leader for A Partnership for Unity, David Granger, the Ministry continues to say that maintenance rests in the hands of the Georgetown Municipality. So at this time, it would be most appropriate for Mrs. Chase-Green to commence the utterances of maintaining clean drains and parapets.