City Council must be transformed into proactive agency managed by qualified professionals

City Council must be transformed into proactive agency managed by qualified professionals

Dear Editor,

It is time for the question to be seriously asked, and answered, about the future of Georgetown, Capital of Guyana.

There needs to be the most comprehensive assessment of its viability in the immediate and subsequent future as the possible hub of a range of structural, social and economic development projected for this country.

Infrastructurally Georgetown is already a constipative concentration of mismanaged traffic. One has only to observe the chaos which surrounds the seat of political decision-makers (including Minister of Public Works) to be concerned about movement and parking in the Stabroek area; and more critically the disaster that could ensue were there to be a conflagration arising from those gasoline-filled vehicles – a situation that demands the creative attention of a well-focused engineering/traffic management team urgently to plan the re-routing of vehicular movement from what would be pre-designed as the tourist attraction Stabroek Market square once was. (For the general relocation of parking accommodation, Port of Spain and Bridgetown may offer useful examples of storeyed accommodation).

It has been a continuing puzzle how both management and consumers ignore the fact that Stabroek Market is an exceptional historical edifice – now so badly in need of caring restoration. Few, if any, note the peculiar feature of its now motionless clock-pointed out to me by the late Peter D’Aguiar many years ago, from his Demico House office. He cleared up my bemusement, even after my identifying the face of ‘roman numerals’ which beautified it. ‘See’ he said, ‘the numeral IIII instead of IV’. It has been worth seeing ever since.

And then there is City Hall, once of most admired architecture, without and within. There is a generation who remembers it as the centre of classical musical renditions and other performances, local and international. Its cultured architecture responded as more than a sensitive back drop to the presentations by the Georgetown Philharmonic and the Princessville Orchestras, the Police and Maranatha Male Voice Choirs, and of course the counterpart female Woodside Choir. In the milieu folk songs were also lustily applauded. And the well-groomed audience would show their informed appreciation of pianoforte performances by international artistes.

Somehow the general ambiance of the building was reflected in the daily office arrangements in which business was conducted. There was sophistication both in the persona of individual leadership and style of management. At random one remembers such ‘First Citizens’ as R.B. Gajraj, (Sir) Lionel Luckhoo, Forbes Burnham.

One pauses to reflect on any comparabilities during these past two decades. From any retrospective it has been a record of both structural and managerial depletion, that raises the fundamental question at this time as to whether tax-paying citizens can indefinitely cope with the continuing low level of organisational performance.

But there is one challenge that could very well out-do any pandemic, and against which vaccines would be irrelevant – that is the throes of ‘Climate Change’.

It is uncertain how closely the relevant authority is measuring the inevitable threat to our low-lying coastlands, and whether our ‘first councillors’ are interested enough to be briefed in any ‘over-flooding’ discussion.

This is to suggest therefore that serious consideration be given by the citizens of Georgetown about whether the current system of elective appointments to the Mayor and City Council is sustainable in the face of a dynamic future environment that even now demands the highest level of professionalism. The argument therefore is for transforming the City Council into a proactive agency to be managed by relevantly qualified professionals, guided by a Chief Operations Manager.

The First Citizenship will be an appropriately honorary position.

Look forward to votes for and against.

Yours faithfully,

(Name and address supplied)

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