President leads City clean up exercise

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—as mayor, PNCR urge boycott over “misuse of joint services”

The second phase of a sustained campaign that commenced over the Christmas holidays to clean up Guyana’s capital city, Georgetown, kicked off Saturday morning and continued on Sunday, but the Mayor and City Council as well as the Peoples National Reform Congress have urged citizens to boycott the exercise.

The exercise, dubbed “Operation Clean Up”, is a collaborative effort between the Joint Services and the Private Sector, with support from the Ministries of Works, and Local Government and Regional Development. The campaign will see heightened activities involving Cabinet Ministers this Saturday and Sunday, January 15 and 16 across the wards of Georgetown.

Technical and manpower support are being provided by the Guyana Defence Force, the Guyana Police Force and other government agencies; with deployments across 13 locations including, Durey Lane, Cemetery Road, Hadfield, Sussex, Princess, Smyth and Durban Streets; Regent, Robb, Church, Camp and Sheriff Streets. The “Operation Clean Up” Coordinators are encouraging citizens residing in the targeted locations to join the campaign activities and for others to initiate clean up exercises of their own, for which support could be requested.

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President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali had announced in his New Year’s message that his government intends to lead a national resurgence of sustained public cleanliness that promotes environmental health across the country, which goes hand in hand with the rapid developmental transformation already taking place. Guyana’s transformational agenda also focuses heavily on achieving a restoration of national pride and patriotism, even as the country coalesces towards a singular identity.

In a statement Joint Services said the exercise will commence at 06:00 hours on both days and will see the cleaning of illegal dumpsites, fencing vacant lots being used for illegal dumping, transporting the garbage collected to landfills and the weeding and raking of parapets in 13 communities. This is the first of many exercises which will be held in other parts of the country.

 

Accumulated garbage will be removed in the following areas; Sussex St, West Front Road, Brickdam & High Sts, Broad St & Saffon Sts Cemetery Road , Hadfield Street , East La Penitence Market , High & Princess Sts Campbellville Newtown Area, Durban &Smyth Sts and Princess & Smyth Sts.

Alternate locations have also been identified based on the progress of the initial list of areas as well as available resources and the number of volunteers. Members of the public are encouraged to join in these efforts aimed at keeping our surroundings clean. The coordinating point is Durban Park and teams will then fan out to the various areas.

Meanwhile, on Friday at the PNCR weekly news conference City Mayor Ubraj Narine said the clean-up exercise being spearheaded by the Government and the Private Sector Commission exposes yet again the ingrained bad intentions of the PPP. “Firstly, the exercise demonstrates the PPP’s continued efforts to undercut and ignore the local government councils in our towns and villages. These efforts fly in the face of the legitimate expectations of citizens and the Guyana constitution itself. Our constitution specifically states in Article 71(1) that: “Local Government is a vital aspect of our democracy and shall be organised so as to involve as many people as possible in the task of managing and developing the communities in which they live.”

The mayor said in line with this constitutional obligation, it bears repeating; the APNU+AFC coalition government finalised amendments to the local government legislation and returned local elections to Guyana in 2016 and 2018. “In contrast, the attitude of the PPP towards the Georgetown Mayor and City Council and other local councils led by the opposition is to stifle them of financial and other resources. In addition, the government bypasses these local authorities and is politically intervening in their functions. Take Georgetown for example. It is public knowledge that the city council is, to quote the SN editorial of January 13th: “unable to manage solid waste disposal … [because] Georgetown has become far too large both in terms of size (wards have been added and boundaries extended) and population and its revenue collection has remained too meagre.”

Narine said the PPP/C continues to exploit this reality for pure political motives, regardless of the damage to the city’s infrastructure, physical environment, and aesthetics—and regardless of the discomfort and harm to city residents. “The PNCR calls on the government to respect the authority and mandates of elected local government councils and to provide them with adequate funding and other resources.”

Narine also knocked the use of the joint services to provide manpower and other resources. He said in the Guyana context, “we see this as a contemptuous and unwarranted misuse of the Joint Services. For such labour-intensive exercises, a government that is genuinely interested in providing employment and income for ordinary folks should instead hire residents and small informal coops to undertake all works. This approach also ensures that a permanent and competent workforce is established to conduct such exercises on a routine basis. It is also important to note that while crime is on the rise, the PPP/C is utilizing policemen and soldiers to clean the city at the expense of them fighting crime and enforcing the law which are their legitimate functions. Clearly, the PPP/C has no interest in local democracy, or democracy generally. They seem hell bent on undermining APNU+AFC controlled councils so that they can remove them and appoint interim management committees. This will not work. The government needs to ensure that local democratic organs are allowed to serve the people who elect them. “ “To register the Party’s rejection of the PSC/GoG exercise, we are calling on all APNU-led local councils in towns and villages to withhold their support. To do otherwise would be to encourage the PPP to further disrespect and undermine their authority and mandates,” the mayor stated.



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