Heated exchange of words between Town Clerk Royston King and vendors of the Stabroek Market area was the order of a meeting called Friday morning at City Hall, with vendors defying the decision to have them removed from the outskirts of the market by the council.
Over 300 vendors and supporters turned up at City Hall to officially hear from the Council what exact plans it had for them, as it had been days since they last worked.
Following their removal Sunday, vendors said they were somewhat bewildered, since they were never informed of an actual move, but were only aware of an invitation to join in cleanup campaign.
The move had sparked some amount of anger among vendors, who carried out a series of protest actions.
On Friday, King told the vendors the council was seeking to have them comfortably relocated by today.
“We are in the process of finalising the preparation of the land where we will be relocating the vendors who once plied their trade around the Stabroek Market and the immediate periphery”, King told the gathering.
“We are not in the business of putting anybody out of bread. You have to make a living and we have the responsibility of keeping this city clean”, he said.
The new area for relocation will only be available to vendors for a mere three months. King said following the expiration of the three months, the council will be having a permanent place for the vendors. He was however pointed in his remark that there will not be any more vending outside the market space. He said that area will be fitted as a civic square for the benefit and pride of all Guyanese.
Guyana Times understands that while over 300 vendors have been removed, the new vending area can only accommodate half of that amount
Meanwhile President David Granger on Friday called on the Council to hasten its efforts to prepare and provide an alternative location for the vendors.
“I deeply regret that there has been some delay between the removal of the vendors, the cleaning up of the square and the resettlement… I would urge the City Council to hasten the resettlement and ensure that every legitimate vendor is given a place to conduct his or her business in a lawful and more sanitary manner,” President Granger urged.
The President expressed disappointment over the delay in resettling the vendors but said he supported the clean-up efforts. He noted that while there may have been some ‘hiccups’, he is satisfied that the vendors were consulted and informed about the move.
“Again, I’d like to urge that the City Council pay attention to the humanitarian side of the cleaning campaign and to make sure that the vendors know what is in store for them. I am satisfied that prior to the move the vendors were consulted and the only disappointment is that the City Council was not able to deliver the promises on time, but from what I can say they’re working,” the President said.
He noted that the Stabroek Market Square is a public space and any citizen of Georgetown or any visitor must be given free access to public places, without fear.
“Over a period of years the use of that public place has degenerated and it became very unsanitary and there’s evidence that a lot of unlawful practices were conducted there. I support the work of the Mayor and City Council to rectify the public area and to put vending on a more orderly footing. This city has to be cleaned and when you look at the conditions that existed in what used to be called ‘Jurassic Park’, nobody had said that Stabroek Square did not have to be cleaned up…. What I would say is let us work together with the City Council to ensure that the vendors are properly accommodated so that they can pursue their economic activities in a legitimate and orderly manner,” he said.
Asked whether it was fair that the vendors from the Stabroek Market Square were required to move while those on the pavements remain, the President said it is expected that things will be done in a sequential manner and not all at once:
“I don’t know about the use of the word unfair, what I know is that Stabroek Square is a public place and I support the efforts of the City Council over the last seven months or so to clean up all public squares… Everything cannot be done simultaneously. Things are being done in a sequential manner… I do believe that the feeling in the population at large is that they’re doing a job which needs to be done.”
The President said he believes and expects that Georgetown will be a healthier, more aesthetically pleasing place at the end of the process.