Georgetown, Guyana (August 4, 2019) The Department of the Environment, through the Protected Areas Commission (PAC) and the National Parks Commission (NPC), has undertaken a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the facilities at the National Park so that citizens can safely utilise same for recreation in safety.
The PAC has been working with the National Parks Commission since the end of 2012 to enhance the facilities at the Park, which are heavily utilised by Georgetown residents. Under the Three Parks Initiative, the National Park has benefited from many improvements as resources have become available.
Through the Initiative, lights have been installed to facilitate the use of the inner circuit beyond daylight hours. The lights were upgraded in 2017 and 2019 under a project managed by the Guyana Energy Agency with funding from the British High Commission and the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives. This upgrade has seen more efficient lighting systems installed to enable even later evening use of the Park’s walkways and other facilities.
The Commission has started construction of the extension to the Head Office in the National Park to accommodate the growing number of staff and a large Board/Training Room. It has also engaged both advertisers and other stakeholders who are responsible for advertisements, buildings and facilities in the Park to encourage them to enhance same. Stakeholders who have sponsored walking trails and other infrastructure are also being re-engaged. The construction of two stands are also earmarked for this year.
Revetment has been installed along the Park’s main canal, which had eroded significantly over the years, resulting in a loss of land area and flooding. The Park’s walkways have also been raised and sections paved to ensure an even path and to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians, walkers and joggers.
The athletics field has also been raised by three to four feet in some areas, and the field is rolled frequently to ensure that it is always ready for use.
Additionally, a new koker, designed to look as close as possible to the original structure, has been installed. The sluice is used in tandem with a large tractor operated pump to remove most of the water from the Park, even when the wider drainage network is flooded, to reduce the impact of flooding.
The Commission has also desilted primary canals bordering the boundary of the National Park in order to supplement its internal efforts.
The main access bridge at the north western end of the National Park was repaired at the beginning of 2019 and the staff and public washrooms rehabilitated.
Safety and security
With an increasing demand for use of this green space, the Commission has taken steps to mitigate and reduce the challenges of maintaining order and compliance by users to enhancing security. The PAC has restructured its Security Department and has been working on various upgrades to ensure that there is basic compliance with the rules and policies governing use of the Park. These upgrades were first implemented in 2017.
In 2018, the Commission hired a Security Manager and a Deputy Security Manager, who have both been undergoing continuous training to ensure optimum security. Security personnel have also been issued with handheld radios and a bicycle patrol system has been implemented along with other measures: such as the installation of additional security cameras – which provides off-site monitoring; enforcing rules, which prohibits persons from storing their personal property on the premise; removal of personal property left in our Security Office and other parts of our premises.
Moreover, some posts such as the Eastern Car Park are patrol posts where the guards are expected to be on the move to overlook parked vehicles.
Also, as part of the Park’s safety precautions, traffic is usually channelled away from walkers/joggers and other pedestrians to reduce risk of injury.
On the eastern side of the Park, a lighted, 60-vehicle paved parking lot was constructed, to a height above 2005 flood levels, to provide a secure, all-weather parking option for visitors. The lot includes a ramp for wheelchair access and persons with disabilities.
As with the Carifesta Avenue parking lot, vehicles are charged a nominal fee for parking from 3:00 pm every day, except on those days when the Park is reserved by both private and public agencies for other events.
As the facility generates revenue, it is expected to cover some of its maintenance costs in the long term.
Created under the Protected Areas Act 201, the PAC oversees the management, maintenance, promotion and expansion of the National Protected Areas System. The PAC has been working with the National Parks Commission since the end of 2012 to enhance the facilities there, which are heavily utilised by Georgetown residents. The Commission has also through the Three Parks Initiative, focused on enhancing the facilities and services provided by the three main urban parks in Georgetown.