THE plague of non-adherence to zoning laws has become a sore on Guyana’s social landscape and has led to a breakdown of many norms and conventions that once guided the standards and the quality of existence of residents of communities. The level and quality of physical and social infrastructure within an urban area are among indicators used to assess the economic prosperity of cities or towns and the nation as a whole. And while infrastructure has played a major role in enhancing the economic wellbeing of Guyana, deviations from zoning laws have posed significant social and environmental threats to citizens.
It is also a significant diagnosis of extant infrastructural and environmental regression in the existential synergies causing impediments to peace and quietude in the lives of citizens.
Also relevant is the observation that one of the concerns in the social spectrum is the issue of commercial enterprises that are not adhering to zoning laws.
The unabated deviation from zoning laws is not a recent development, but has become inherent to the ‘new normal of lawlessness’ pervading the society, and it is true that in traditional residential areas, as well as the new housing schemes, those deviations have been spiraling out of control.
As such, the recent contention of Public Infrastructure Minister, Mr. David Paterson, that improper solid waste management and the emission of hazardous gases from companies not complicit with zoning laws, are but only two of the indicators of their contribution to environmental threats to citizens, and merely touch on the periphery of the issue.
Without much redress, citizens have long been complaining of the very many transgressions of persons or business houses against the environment that cause distress to occupants of neighbouring homes.
Not least of this is the noise pollution. Churches are ironically some of the worst offenders, while private parties, including income-generating Bar-B-Ques and fish fries on a very regular basis have proliferated to such an extent that they have become an established event in communities countrywide.
Then there is the escalation of beer gardens in communities not initially plotted to include these safe havens for the idle and the lawless.
These activities have contributed much to violence in homes and communities, because inebriated persons pick senseless fights with each other, with resultant violent episodes that sometimes lead to tragic consequences, even murder, with all its attendant outcomes.
Another fallout of these lawless events is the disturbance they cause to law-abiding citizens who cannot pursue their normal activities, such as students studying, residents listening to their television sets or music, or even having a simple conversation in peace.
Babies are not allowed to sleep because of the high decibels at which cacophonous and most often very lewd music is played. The aged and the ill are also victims, as well as the animals who are often scared and suffer without being able to articulate their objections, so they are the silent victims of the transgressors of zoning laws.
So the initiative being embarked upon by Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson to re-examine the zoning laws which currently exist, that were formulated in 1946 without amendments since, it is imperative to address a seemingly unmanageable and escalating social malady, especially in light of the evident nonconformity with them over the years.
The Minister’s affirmation to this newspaper that there will be a comprehensive review of the laws that will seek to aid in the long-term survival of the country provides hope that this long-ongoing social malady will soon be reversed and eventually come to a halt, providing much relief to the law-abiding citizens of the land.