Guyana: Displaced vendors upset

Guyana Chronicle:- AS THE venue for Stabroek Market vendors appears tentative, several representatives of the disgruntled group on Tuesday afternoon met with Head of the Political Division, Ministry of the Presidency, Frederick Mc Wilfred to air their concerns regarding their relocation.

McWilfred is expected to relay their concerns to the Government.

The vendors have been protesting their relocation from the environs of the market and their troubles deepened as the venue earmarked for them remains tentative.

The vendors told this newspaper that when they turned up at the old Royal Castle site opposite the Linden bus park, the gates to the property were locked and according to them, the venue’s owner, businessman Harishnarine Sugrim was still in discussion with City Hall on the venue being opened for vending.

The situation grew tense during the morning hours when members of the City Constabulary removed several stands, which were packed with old refrigerators, among other items from the Stabroek Market area and took them across to City Hall.

As midday approached, a crowd grew in number outside City Hall’s gates as persons demanded the return of their stalls, while others called on the Council to find another location for them to vend.

Traffic at this point was re-routed on Regent Street, Georgetown in front of the entrance to City Hall. However, the situation returned to normalcy sometime after 13:00 hrs.

Later, around 15:00 hrs, the vendors converged at the corner of Shiv Chanderpaul Drive and Regent Road where police officers were manning several barricades.

The protestors called for an audience with President David Granger, but they were told to await information from the Ministry of the Presidency by police officials at the scene.

As time dragged on, McWilfred walked to the barricades from the Ministry of the Presidency and informed the vendors that he would meet with five persons who represent the group. After some discussion among themselves, the group’s representatives were allowed through the barricades and into the Ministry of the Presidency compound.

According to McWilfred, his purpose for meeting the vendors was to ensure their views reach the attention of President Granger.

He said the President is overseas and no senior Government official was available to meet with the vendors since Cabinet was in progress.

“I came here because this is not what President Granger would expect or desire,” he said.

He told the vendors that Minister of State Joseph Harmon was also out of the jurisdiction and he was expected to return last evening. He said he will brief Harmon on the vendors concerns today.

Members of the disgruntled vendors who met with the Government official included representatives for vendors from the Demico House area and the Stabroek Market Bazaar.

Meanwhile, City Hall in a release said there were several vendors who owned stalls at the Stabroek Market, but were not occupying them.

According to City Hall, this has resulted in the congestion on the pavements.

“The Georgetown Municipality is not seeking to put stakeholders out of business, but rather to ensure that vending is done in an atmosphere that is conducive and legitimate, which would be of mutual benefit to stakeholders and Council,” the release noted.

The municipality called on the vendors to exercise patience as the relocation exercise takes effect.

Georgetown’s Deputy Mayor Sherod Duncan told this newspaper on Sunday that the move by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown to re-organise the Stabroek Market Bazaar is perhaps the single largest undertaking in that vicinity since the market was constructed in 1881.

According to the Georgetown Municipality, if the City is to attain the status of a top international city, change is imperative.