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Fellow citizens, this article will be the first in an ongoing series, which will be published weekly in Village Voice.
In these articles, I will, as Mayor of the City of Georgetown, explain and clarify the Mayor and City Council’s (M&CC) position on various issues of importance to the capital city. I will tell you of the Council’s visions and plans for the city of Georgetown, and, importantly, I will be frank and forthright about the numerous challenges faced by the Council.
Some of those challenges are unavoidable and totally understandable and expected. However, unfortunately, many of the problems faced by the Council are unnecessary; many of our obstacles are contrived by people who want to hinder the development of Georgetown. Such obstacles are made up and placed in our path by people who have political agendas, and sadly, have placed their own political objectives ahead of the needs, desires, hopes and dreams of the people. This is a sad state of affairs, but such contrived obstructions will not stop our development, I promise you that.
I will use this series of articles to give you — the residents of Georgetown and citizens of Guyana — a balanced and fair understanding of what is taking place in your capital city. You will not only have one side of the story; I promise to give you a balanced view; you will know all sides of the issues.
Fellow citizens, I was elected to the Municipal Council of Georgetown following the November 12, 2018 Local Government Elections, and was honoured to have been elected to the Office of Mayor. I began my work on January 1, 2019. Since then, I have been re-elected two more times to serve in this office.
From the day I resumed my duties as Mayor, one important matter I have pondered on.
Fellow citizens, it pains me to see the way that we treat the earthly remains of our deceased comrades, particularly our parents, our grandparents — our own ancestors. Specifically, I refer to the deplorable state of the Le Repentir Cemetery.
As it is, the cemetery is overrun by bush and weeds. There are no proper roads and walkways. And drainage is nonexistent; when it rains, the cemetery becomes a swamp. Fellow citizens, how can we justify treating the deceased with such disdain and disrespect? How can we sleep at nights knowing that our loved ones who have passed away are spending their eternal sleep in a cemetery which has become infamous for rape, robberies, and even the crime of murder? How can we rest while nothing is done to remedy this problem?
My friends, with that in mind, one of my first acts as Mayor was to move to fix that problem.
The Le Repentir Cemetery is a landmark of great importance. Established in March 1861, the cemetery is the largest municipal burial site in Guyana; it covers 103,508 acres of land. Its historical significance is, of course, only enhanced by the fact that the cemetery is the final place of rest for most of Georgetown’s residents.
I became Mayor of the City Georgetown on January 1, 2019, and by March 6, 2019 the Mayor and Councilors of the City of Georgetown had completed a proposal entitled “The Cemetery Modernisation and Development Plan.” The proposal — which is 34 pages long was sent to the Central Government.
The proposal described in detail how the cemetery could be improved. The document covered various aspects of the cemetery’s operations including human resources, financial planning, operational issues, and future expansion possibilities as well as other matters.
Further to the proposal itself, I wrote to His Excellency President Mohammed Irfaan Ali on January 27, 2022 — one year ago. In my correspondence to the president, I suggested that a meeting be held with the central government, the M&CC, and private sector representatives to discuss cooperation regarding the cemetery improvement proposal.
To this date, President Irfaan Ali has not replied.
Needless to say, I am disappointed by the fact that the People’s Progressive Party administration appears to have disregarded and disposed of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown 34-page proposal as well as my letter.
Fellow citizens, it is my strong and unwavering belief that the Le Repentir Cemetery must be brought up to standard; we owe it to our loved ones and ourselves, and we owe it to our children.
I promise you that for as long as I am Mayor of our beautiful capital city, I will continue to fight for the improvement of Georgetown including the refurbishment of the Le Repentir Cemetery.