How many of us know that one of the UN’s Sustainable Goals 2030 – to which we’ve signed on – declares that we should “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”? Well, good for us, since it’s clear that President Ali must’ve taken this goal very seriously. After all, right after the goals were announced, he decided to do his PhD in Urban and Regional Planning, the doctorate of which UWI duly awarded him in late 2019!!
Now, for years, he must’ve seen Georgetown sliding into despicable decrepitude under the various mayoralties – all controlled by the PNC. He would’ve seen the more than one-quarter of our COUNTRY’s citizens living in increasingly degraded and insanitary circumstances, and wondered what could be done. But even if the PNC weren’t so hapless and venal – a fatal combination for leadership! – cities across the globe are also being challenged by other factors.
In our case there are the rising seas due to global warming, which makes Georgetown a prime candidate for inundation, since it was 5 feet under sea level from the beginning in the 18th century!
So, yes, the UN’s statement that “For all of us to survive and prosper, we need new, intelligent urban planning that creates safe, affordable and resilient cities with green and culturally inspiring living conditions” clearly inspired Irfaan Ali, who’d been Minister of Housing since 2012. As such, as soon as he became President on Aug 2, 2020, he announced that he was committed to creating a “new city” on higher ground up the Linden Highway!! And that’s why he will make such a good leader for Guyana.
He’s not only youthful, looking at problems with a fresh eye, he took it upon himself to prepare himself to confront those problems. And not just about urban planning!
Anyhow, he just participated in the “Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) 2021, which opened on Wednesday. Hosted by the University of Guyana (UG), it was held under the theme “Urbanization: Processes, Policy and Emerging Challenges”. He reiterated his stance on urbanisation, which he’d put into effect since his stint as Housing Minister: create more housing schemes across the country, which lessens the needs for urbanisation.
Fact is, Guyana has one of the lowest population densities on planet Earth – and to the extent we can avoid urbanisation, we should. Cities invariably develop their own pathologies through having people living like rats in cages. Those cities we MUST have should be carefully planned to minimise the downside risks.
The new “Silica City” must be launched ASAP, and the decision must be made to follow the Brazilian “new city” of Brasilia model.
Build it around the Government’s administrative structures – setting the tone for order!
It’s said that “Every victory is an opportunity, but at the same time, the most dangerous moment comes with victory”. This is an axiom that the PPP must hearken to now that the PNC found out the hard way that “dis time nah lang time”. Granger counted on the US going along with his attempted rigging – as they’d done with his mentor Burnham in 1968. He was one of Burnham’s planted officers in the GDF to ensure that no threat would emanate from that quarter. But he forgot that the doctrinaire Cheddi isn’t around any longer to be invoked as a bogeyman!!
Anyhow, Granger and Harmon aren’t merely licking their wounds. As ex-army officers, they’re definitely planning their next campaign. And it ain’t no POLITICAL campaign!! These fellas have about 100 YEARS OF MILITARY exposure between them – as opposed to just two decades of overt political involvement.
As we saw during the five years they were in Government, they just can’t think outside of the (military) box.
It’s a trite observation that “free speech” doesn’t give anyone the right to yell “FIRE!!!” in a crowded theatre. Free speech isn’t protected against harming others.
Consequently, action must be taken against those who spread conspiracy theories against COVID-19 vaccination!