by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 26 October 2007)
In the last year there has been a lot of time and effort spent on revamping Guyana’s image. New roads have been built, a modern stadium has been erected and trash has been cleaned up off the streets.
With the same degree of joy many experienced because of the progress taking place, it is now a sentiment of disappointment that is evident as it is discovered that the toilet facilities at the new stadium, which is not yet even a year old, are not being properly maintained.
A country is only as strong as it’s infrastructure. Take the Roman Empire for example; it developed a thriving metropolis, a network of useable roads for the trading routes, beautiful architecture, coliseums, water supply system, etc. However, Rome did not stop at the developmental stage – this great empire continued to properly maintain what they had built.
Guyana and its friends have invested large sums of finances to help the nation overhaul the deteriorating infrastructure – right down to the installation of traffic lights. Everyone had good reason to feel the pride of seeing the glory of the new stadium.
However, development of the national infrastructure is only half of the job. The other half of the job is the maintenance of the new development. For example, a letter in Wednesday’s Stabroek News said the new toilet facilities at the stadium were in such an unsanitary state that “Worms could be seen in the bowls as big as baby fingers.”
One Website dedicated to the stadium (guyanaprovidencestadium.blogspot.com) posted this comment, “Most of the Stadium external toilets behind the Party Mound were closed during the KFC match between Guyana and Trinidad. This led to patrons urinating behind the toilets in public as can be seen at the far end [the blog had a photo of this]. The question is why would these external toilets be closed with a crowd of about 8,000 people in attendance?”
Good question, why? In truth, it would not cost much to hire a team – or even just one person – to maintain these facilities on a regular basis. Though more workers would be required during events with thousands of people in attendance.
It is so disappointing to know that the government has not already taken measures to maintain this stadium that cost so much to build. If money is the problem, I am sure a group of volunteers could be organised to help keep the stadium clean. Civic-minded people or a religious group could create a maintenance schedule to make sure it stays clean.
If that proves to be problematic as well, then perhaps a judicial ruling for community service to clean the toilets could be served to traffic violators. If you speed, then you clean. If you blast loud music while driving, then you clean.
Whatever it takes to properly maintain the new stadium is all that matters on this account. I just do not see the Romans allowing their coliseum to fall into disrepair between gladiator matches. So why should Guyana’s stadium fall into disrepair between cricket matches or other stadium-worthy affairs?
Again, I want to reiterate that development is only half of the job. Maintenance is the other half. It would be a shame to see all of that money, invested to provide toilet facilities for stadium visitors, go down the drain.
With large worms in the toilets, it is only a matter of time before the plumbing needs to be repaired as well, something that could be avoided by cleaning the toilet bowls regularly.
Since the government is collecting so much in taxes from the citizens lately, it seems the people should at least expect to be able to use clean and functioning toilets at the new stadium.
I am not suggesting that the toilet facilities should be like a spa – a fresh smelling soothing atmosphere that is ornately decorated. However, would some new toilet paper, clean bowls and no worms be too much to ask?
I bet if one of those in Jagdeo’s administration had to use those toilets on a regular basis (instead of the nicer facilities reserved for the important people), the worms would be gone and everything would be sparkling clean.
How about it, Mr. President? Need to use the toilet?