I observed in the press recently that the Prime Minister, Brig (r’td) Mark Phillips, met with the Mayor and a delegation from the Georgetown Municipality, once more to attempt to alleviate the suffering of residents across the city, who are once again plagued by flooding caused in no small measure by the mismanagement of the city’s drainage and other infrastructure.
And though this is a commendable initiative by the Prime Minister, he needs to understand that he is, as they say in Guyana, “flogging a dead horse”.
It is no accident that, in spite of the enormous assistance — financial, material, and other — provided by the Central Government, the city is in such a decrepit condition. The Georgetown Municipality is in a vegetative, paralysed and nugatory state quite simply because of incompetence, corruption, and indolence. Nepotism, cronyism and favouritism are of the highest order at City Hall. No other Local Government agency across the world could have so many friends and family members working together, all square pegs in round holes. It seems as though the criteria for getting a job there is knowing someone, or being related to someone there.
Just imagine: Councillors sat and squabbled for decades over trivial matters, while City Hall crumbled into its current ruinous state. The Central Government had to rush in and rebuild it. They needed an administrative building, and the Government had to finance it. A grant was given to them to repair the Stabroek Market Clock, but they never fixed it, and the grant was forfeited. The market itself had rehabilitation works done under an IDB-funded project, and not its own money. The City Police Training Centre is in a ramshackle state despite the Council claiming to have spent $47 million rehabilitating it. The Abattoir, which got damaged as a result of an accident, got repaired by a private entity, but is still basically non-functional. The Le Repentir Cemetery is a jungle; the Kitty Market, another financial black hole, is yet to be completed; the Promenade Gardens, a public park, is closed to the public; and the Day Care Centres are all shuttered.
The Council no longer builds or maintains roads or bridges in the city; the City Police Bicycle Patrol is dead; stray animals are no longer rounded up; and public health inspection of yards is no longer done.
So, what does the City Council use all of the hundreds of millions of dollars it collects each month from property rates, stall rentals, licences, container and other fees for?
It spends it on itself, doling out fat cat salaries that amount to well over a hundred million dollars a month; paying for needless public relations services; and paying a whopping amount to contractors, while Georgetown remains in a deplorable state.
Why is the Local Government Commission allowing this?