Major upgrades, expansion for Parika Market to curb roadside vending – President Ali

 – as Govt intervenes to address issues facing market

President Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday announced major expansion and upgrade works for the Parika Market, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) with the aim of regularising roadside vending there.
The Head of State, accompanied by Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips and several Cabinet Ministers, conducted a walkabout exercise around the area during which they interacted with vendors, shoppers as well as the market’s officials.
Speaking with reporters afterwards, President Ali highlighted some of the pressing issues that the management of the market faces including illegal vending outside the market, inadequate infrastructure and facilities, and insufficient revenues.
Currently, he explained that the market earns approximately $1.2 million monthly but its expenses – inclusive of wage/salary bill, garbage collection fees and utility dues – exceed the revenues.

President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Ministers interacting with vendors at the Parika Market

Additionally, the market also has another $10 million in rent outstanding.
“So, I want people to understand this, whilst the market management can do better and should do better, they are faced with this reality too,” President Ali explained.
He went on to note that, “Here is where the Government comes in. So, it is obvious that they don’t have any capacity or capability to invest in infrastructure upgrade here, and this is a public service – the entire region and people from Berbice, all over, utilise the service.”
The President, however, revealed that during his interactions with the vendors plying their trade outside the market premises on Sunday morning, there was a willingness to relocate.
To this end, the Head of State has instructed Minister within the Public Works Ministry, Deodat Indar, and Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond, to engage the management committee of the Parika Market as well as the vendors on moving this process forward.
“We’ve already initiated some discussions with the people who have the ballfield – there are two ballfields. So, we’re going to upgrade one so they can use that one and see if we can extend the market on this additional land. So, what we’ll do is that we will expand the tarmac; we’ll look at putting in the walkway canopy that they want, and then we will also look at enhancing the facilities, washroom facility and everything.”
“Sometimes we have to make hard decisions. Sometimes people have to embrace decisions that may seem hard initially, but decisions that will ultimately benefit them, benefit everyone and take away a lot of problems. So, we will invest in that and then we’ll ask everybody to move in the [expanded] market,” President Ali posited.
According to the Head of State, these follow-up discussions will commence sometime this week when the Ministers return to talk to the various stakeholders.
The President expressed his hope to have these talks wrapped up as early as possible so that physical works can begin. In fact, Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, has also been tasked with mobilising the resources needed to take this effort forward.
“The consultations shouldn’t last more than two weeks, depends on how it goes. And then we’re going to try to see what additional resources are needed and then we have to move forward. But definitely, something has to be done… I hope before [six months] we can start something physically here because it is a major issue. We cannot allow it to continue and I’m not prepared to allow it to continue. All of us will have to embrace the decision.”
Sunday’s visit to the Parika Market followed a similar exercise at the Leonora Market, West Bank Demerara, the previous day. He and several Ministers had an interactive session on Saturday with residents and vendors of the Leonora Market, where he proposed building a huge tarmac for vending.
In addition, the President also announced the rollout of a massive and active outreach programme as part of efforts to take the Government to the people of Guyana.
President Ali reminded that when he first assumed office in August of 2020, he had promised citizens that the Government would stay committed and connected to the people. Although the COVID-19 pandemic hindered large-scale interactions, the Cabinet was still able to reach and engage with people all across the country.
But with COVID-19 cases dropping, the Government will now look to be more interactive.
“I want to assure all Guyanese that what you will see now is an enormous, energetic outreach programme. We don’t want people to come to the Government, we want to come to people, and we are not afraid of doing this because we know our policies are oriented around the development and advancement of every Guyanese.”
The President underscored that the attitude of officials must change and that the Government cannot be “lawmakers in a chair anymore”.
“The people want to feel connected; they want to see these officials on the ground to connect with them, talk to them, be able to interact with them, and that is what we are encouraging.”
Further, President Ali reminded of the importance of dealing with the issues and problems of ordinary Guyanese. He said that beneficial initiatives by the Government are not fully executed because of the disconnect.