While President Dr Irfaan Ali has on several occasions had to visit communities in person to address their needs at the local level, he has also emphasised that it is actually the institutions, such as City Hall, that are supposed to be working to address the needs of the people.
On Saturday, the President, accompanied by several other officials, visited Kitty, Georgetown, to listen to the concerns of residents. The concerns raised were dominated by drainage issues, as well as the need for recreational spaces and clearing roadways of encumbrances.
While the President committed to addressing these issues, he also pointed out to the residents that the institutions supposed to be alleviating these issues, such as the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC), are not working as they should.
“Institutions must work. One of the important things about good countries and democracy is that when people fail you, the institutions never fail you. And unless we build our institutions in such a way that the institutions never fail us… people may fail you, but the institutions must never fail you. That is what we have to do.”
According to President Ali, City Hall must be reorganised to be more responsive and proactive when it comes to addressing the needs of residents in Georgetown. The President noted that City Council must be “rebuilt”.
“How do we ensure the institution of City Council is rebuilt and structured, reorganised, re-strategised, realigned, to the needs of the people, to the extent it does not fail us,” the Head of State said.
Accompanying the President were newly appointed Local Government Minister Sonia Parag and the Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development Anand Persaud, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr and the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy.
Additionally, several PPP/C councillors on the City Council were present, including Don Singh and Steven Jacobs.
The various complaints from residents were recorded with the assurance that Government engineers and other technical staff would be in the area addressing the problems and ensuring the residents benefit from intense drainage and road works, proper sewage, enhanced security and other critical social services.
It was explained that both the Ministries of Public Works and Local Government and Regional Development will collaborate and focus on desilting drainages and improving roadways while the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport will be providing skill training programmes to around 60 youths in the community.
“Within one week … they’re going implement a robust plan … to deal with the challenges that we see here today. But, it’s not only about today, it’s about the councillors using this injection to develop with you the citizens, a long-term strategy, a continuing strategy that will change the mindset,” President Ali told residents.
“Over the last year, we have transitioned as promised, when the councillors were here when the Ministers campaigned during the Local Government Elections, we promised that we’ll have a robust and strong community-oriented strategy.”
The PPP/C Government intends to make similar interventions in the communities of Alberttown and Kingston because the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is not delivering on its mandate to improve the livelihoods of residents in Georgetown.
At the last Local Government Elections (LGE), the PPP won five of the 15 constituencies, an increase from three in 2018. In 2018, the PPP had secured 6813 votes, but at last year’s polls, ballots in its favour almost doubled to 12,256.
Even though the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) controlled City Hall during the period 2020 to 2022, the PPP/C Government expended over $6 billion to construct and rehabilitate roads in Georgetown. Between 2020 and 2022, the Government expended $155 million to reconstruct and rehabilitate bridges.
Additionally, $1 billion was spent to enhance the Old Railway Embankment, $1.6 billion on enhancement works along Independence Boulevard, Cemetery Road, and internal roads, Albouystown, Georgetown; and $250 million on enhancement works along Kingston Seawall.
Between 2021 and 2022, the Administration also expended $678 million to operate and maintain the main drainage system in the municipality and $600 million to upgrade the water transmission lines in Georgetown. It also stood the cost of $510 million for solid waste management.