Saturday, June 4, 2011

Don't give corrupt City Hall a cent to clean Le Repentir Cemetery-Peeping Tom

Le Repentir Cemetery in its current state

Peeping Tom: The news that the government plans to give a facelift to the Le Repentir Cemetery, now a mini jungle in the middle of the capital, will be welcome by all who are interested in finding the graves and tombs of their loved ones but who are unable to do so because of the massive overgrowth that has blanketed that area.
Once again on Mother’s Day this year, the largest cemetery in Guyana was the scene of tears of desperation and frustration as children and grandchildren who went to pay their respects at the graves of their deceased mothers and grandmothers, were unable to do so because of the state of that cemetery which now resembles what Georgetown must have looked like when the Dutch first landed.
That the cemetery could have been reduced to this state is inexcusable. It represents just another example of the neglect and deterioration that has stepped in the city under the watch of the City Council. And it cannot be for a shortage of resources because there are other towns which are far more cash-strapped, which have less potential for revenue collection, and which would never have allowed their public burial grounds to be taken over by the jungle.
The government has decided that it is going to help. A substantial sum has reportedly been set aside for the works, but the government will most likely find that given the state of the cemetery that that sum may only be sufficient to clear the overgrowth. What happens afterwards? Will that money go to naught just like the millions that were spent a few years ago to clear Durban Park, only to see it once again turn into a jungle.
The Le Repentir cemetery should not be allowed to return to the state that it is in at the moment. The sums that have been allocated may barely do to clear the cemetery of the overgrowth and clear the drains for effective runoff of water. But when that is finished the destruction caused will bring more tears and trauma because some of that overgrowth will have to be burnt and that means that a number of tombs will crack under the heat. This has already happened with the sporadic clearing that has taken place by the authorities to try to clear certain areas.
What is needed is not a one-off clearing, as was done with Durban Park. What is needed is a plan to create a serene place, that is befitting of the final resting place of someone. What is needed is for increased security to ensure that the area is free of vagrants and robbers, a place where mourners and those wishing to pay their respects to the dead can do so without fear of being molested or attacked.
What is needed is for persons who have relatives buried in that cemetery to be engaged and to play a role in its resuscitation, including the making of electronic copies of records that would allow for the easy tracing of the location of specific tombs.
What is needed is a system in which revenues earned from the sale of burial plots can be ploughed back into the maintenance of the facility. There are persons who are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on wakes and on coffins and yet are only a relatively small amount for their burial plots.
The objective should not be to place plot out of the reach of the poor, but certainly a section of the available land can be set aside for luxury plots, sold at a premium price which can then be used to cross-subsidize for low cost plots. There are lots of rich people who would love to know that when they die their remains are interred along with other millionaires in special grounds that will be well kept.
There are also many persons who return each year to Guyana. Many of them have not been back here for a long time, and when they come they often wish to visit the graves of their loved ones to pay their respects. If that loved one is buried in the Le Repentir cemetery, they cannot do this and Guyana gets a bad name.
In fact the government also gets a bad name for the problem that is not of its making.
The government has opted to intervene and this is welcome, election year or no election year. But it should not put any money for the clearing of the cemetery in the hands of the Georgetown municipality. It should do the work itself under an agreement with the municipality that would see Central Government assuming full responsibility for the management of burials at that location and for works at the closed dumpsite.
That dumpsite is expected to be developed into a golf course and the proceeds from that or whatever other project goes up on the dumpsite, should be used for the improvement of the cemetery, but it should be centrally administered by the government who should have full control of the cemetery.
A broad- based citizen’s committee, comprising members of the private sector, representatives of religious organizations and funeral homes should be put in place to undertake the enhancement work.
What we need are persons with ideas and who are willing to do something for Guyana. All the ideas cannot come from the government and this is one of the ways in which persons can play a role in the development of their country.
Not a blind cent should be given to the Council to undertake any works in the cemetery. They have brought it to the state it is in at present and they should remove themselves from any further say in its management or future.

No comments:

Post a Comment