The Ministry of Housing and Water, assisted by the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), are looking to reverse the deplorable condition of Parliament Square and return it to a functional public facility.
Overrun by vagrants, with toilet facilities and other necessary fixtures such as lights removed from the park, the Housing Ministry stood up against resistance by the Georgetown Mayor and City Council to reclaim the facility it once owned and managed.
Led by the Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal, a team from the ministry which included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CH&PA, Sherwyn Greaves, visited the facility on Wednesday morning as a symbolic gesture to signal its physical repossession of the property.
Minister Croal said he was disappointed with both the City Council’s lack of maintenance of the facility and recent refusal to hand it back to the Housing Ministry.
“I must express my disappointment in the Mayor and City Council [of Georgetown] … there was resistance, there was a back and forth and now we take immediate ownership and we have to move on.
“We want persons to come here and you can host activities, take pictures and enjoy the nice cool atmosphere,” he said.
The minister said in the bid to reclaim the property, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission has now issued the ministry an absolute grant of ownership. Among the issues to be addressed is the non-functioning fountain, the removal of vagrants who had taken up residence there; the removal of large piles of garbage, upgrades to the lawns and replacing necessary toilet facilities and other fixtures.
A management committee is now in place, and according to Greaves, the Ministry of Housing will ensure the park is kept to a standard that will please the public.
“We are extremely disappointed to see what has become of this facility… people once enjoyed coming here and it is sad to see what it has become and we intend to bring it back to its glory,” he assured.
The facility was conceptualised in 2012 as a brainchild of then Housing and Water Minister and now President of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali.
Between 2012 to 2015, under the stewardship of Dr Ali, the ministry invested millions in the mini urban park, improving the atheistic of the area east of Parliament Buildings.
When the government changed in 2015, the APNU+AFC Coalition transferred management to the Georgetown Mayor and City Council. Between that period to now, the facility was poorly maintained.