Overbearing fiasco of illegal street vending must end immediately

Dear Editor,
‘The running sore of illegal vending’ in Guyana is yet again a burning issue. I note that Attorney General Anil Nandlall came out once more to condemn the City Council and the police for ignoring this dangerous and distasteful practice.
In fact, he is so incensed, and rightfully so, that he is urging affected businesses to take legal action against the Council. His urging hopefully will be adhered to, and soon, I hope, we will get answers and accountability from “the Mayor and City Councillors of Georgetown, as well as the Guyana Police Force (GPF), for their ineffective handling of the issue of illegal vending in the country’s capital.”
What I do know is that this activity causes a lot of disadvantages, including traffic congestion, environmental pollution, visual pollution, and reduced food safety. Thus, it must be prohibited, or at least be effectively managed, so that Guyana can reduce these significant negative effects.
According to the AG, and as most of us do know, “The City Council is simply not carrying out its statutory responsibilities, and neither is the Guyana Police Force. There has been a combination of neglect, both on the part of the City Council and the Guyana Police Force, for decades. As a result, you have a monstrous situation of unlawful vending permeating the city, with the resultant chaos, disorder, garbage, stench of bacteria, and unsanitary conditions.”
This is right to the point, and yet there is more.
Editor, for one, street vending can be, and has been, a veneer for theft and robbery. If we are to count the actual vendors involved in some form of business, they will make for a small fraction of the vast number of ‘others’ with them; and, far too many times, this kind of situation has allowed for pick-pockets, snatch-and-run, and choke-and-rob perpetrators, among others, to blend right in and protect their criminality.
Then how about the proliferation of counterfeit goods, fraud schemes, selling smuggled items, and even ‘passing narco’ in this melee? It suits the purpose, and no wonder these spates of activities and quite a few others have been escalating in Guyana. In fact, I ask readers to revisit how a “Cane View vendor (was) stabbed to death” (Stabroek News:https://www.stabroeknews.com) and the case of a “Shoe vendor (who was also) stabbed to death on Regent Street (https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com).
Let me expand on something that has always bothered me: that is, how street vending is fraught with selling counterfeit or pirated goods such as fake designer clothing, electronics, or counterfeit currency. This practice not only impacts the legitimate economy, but can also expose consumers to substandard or dangerous products.
It gets even worse, as there are food safety issues in which street food vendors, particularly those without proper licences or permits, may pose health risks to consumers. Inadequate food handling practices, poor sanitation, and lack of appropriate storage facilities can lead to foodborne illnesses and poisoning. I mean, the nonsense must stop.
I will add here the madness of traffic congestion and pedestrian safety; as street vendors often occupy sidewalks or public areas, leading to congestion and reduced accessibility for pedestrians. This, of course, can increase the risk of accidents and potentially contribute to traffic congestion.
So, I am very glad that local businesses are now planning to take legal action in the High Court. “They are seeking injunctions against the City Council, demanding that vendors be removed from the vicinity of their stores”. And like the AG, I am hoping that things will start to go the right way.
Nandlall enlightened thus, “It is a criminal offence to encumber pavements and public roadways. It is a criminal offence to block someone’s ingress and egress to their premises. It is a criminal offence to vend without permission. It is a criminal offence to erect permanent structures without permission on parapets, public roadways and public reserves.”
May I remind all that, in San Francisco, a temporary ban on street vending on Mission Street is ongoing. This is an effort to continue to improve safety and cleanliness along the commercial corridor. The city cited concerns about unpermitted vendors — some of whom were selling stolen items — and inaccessible sidewalks. During the band’s first 60 days, street conditions improved.
Guyana is dilly-dallying too much, and all because of some collusive entities.

Yours truly,
HB Singh