President wants City Hall to make decisions on key assets; Norton calls for more resources to support City

President wants City Hall to make decisions on key assets; Norton calls for more resources to support City

President Irfaan Ali believes “strategic decisions on key assets” in the capital city of Georgetown are needed, following the collapse of the condemned Stabroek Market wharf this morning.

The roof of the dilapidated structure caved-in just after 10:00hrs today injuring five persons. 

During a visit to the scene, the President said his Administration has been in discussion with a number of City Councillors concerning strategic decisions that ought to be made on key assets within the city, including its markets. 

He said Cabinet is concerned that “key assets” in the city are not being maintained, and are often left in a state of disrepair, posing serious threat to the lives of citizens. 

“If we continue to have situations like these where the maintenance of the infrastructure and the protection of the infrastructure is not addressed, then health and safety becomes a major issue. So, I think the time has come for a very serious, mature conversation,” President Ali said.  

He said the Municipality of Georgetown is in no position to manage a number of the key infrastructure and investments in the city. According to him, City Mayor, Alfred Mentore, must be honest about the situation. 

But Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, who also visited the location, said the collapse of the wharf could have been prevented had Government provided the City Council with the required resources.  

“I think the first thing we need to recognize is that this is a manifestation of the fact that the Government starves the municipality of resources. I know, when we were in Government, between 2015 and 2020, we had already declared here, unsuitable for people to operate, and we had begun to put the things in place to ensure that there was a new market and a boardwalk out her. The government crapped that when they came to power, and as a consequence, people continued to be here. And, so, in my opinion, this is a logical consequence of the lack of vision of the government, the lack of a plan and the whole desire to starve the city council of resources,” Norton told reporters on the ground. 

Norton said while immediate action requires the removal of the debris from the site, moving forward there is need for a complete overhaul of the Stabroek Market, and other markets within the city. 

“You might have to bring a barge at the river, remove the debris, clear the site, and then in a very structured way, begin to deal with not just the collapse of this but the entire market, which needs complete rebuilding or overhaul because you might want to save the architecture. So that would demand as well the Government change its position on the City Council and recognize that this is a national symbol, and it should be treated as such, rather than some partisan, political piece of building that should be caught in the political battles that the government has created for the people of Georgetown,” Norton said. 

The City Mayor confirmed that the area was earmarked for a boardwalk under the APNU+AFC Administration, however, the plan was shelved following the change in administration. 

He said in the absence of resources, there is only so much that the municipality can do. The City Council, which has an APNU+AFC majority, has been pressing the PPP Civic Government for increased resources. The Government has been bypassing the Council on a number of City related issues and dealing directly with its minority councillors, rather than the full Council.

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