Stall holders who were still operating in the Stabroek Market Wharf, although it was cordoned off to facilitate rehabilitation works were forced to evacuate as the facility caught fire.
Although it is suspected that the fire may have been started by a female, who had an argument with another vendor, Mayor Patricia Chase Green, who toured the partially-burnt structure, on Tuesday morning said that City Hall was still assessing the number of stalls that have been destroyed by the blaze.
“I received a report a little before 12am from the City Constabulary informing me of a fire at the Stabroek Market Wharf. I came down here (and) the firefighters were already on the scene trying to contain the fire and it was contained,” she explained.
Chase Green said that despite the fact that the firefighters managed to put out the blaze, she later received another report indicating that another fire had started, this time in a different area at the wharf, after the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) restored electricity to the area.
The Mayor noted that that fire too was contained by the prompt firefighters who she commended for their service.
“This here should never have happened, but it has happened and we have got to make sure we put more stringent measures in place to prevent people from getting at the back here, because we would have closed this off many months ago, but as you see people are still actively utilising their stalls in the market,” she related.
Speaking with Guyana Times a vendor said that stall holders who operated at the wharf suffered tremendous losses as refrigerators and other appliances were destroyed, along with their stocks of fish, vegetables, and fruits.
Meanwhile, A Division (Georgetown-East Bank Demerara) Commander Marlon Chapman said on Tuesday afternoon that he was unaware of anyone being in custody for the fire.
The scorched back of the Stabroek Market was long overdue for rehabilitation. The area was cordoned off months ago to allow for repair works in September.
After the area was barricaded off on September 13, Town Clerk Royston King in an engagement with the media said those vendors would have to spend at least two years at the Grove-Diamond bus park.
The drivers there were relocated to Bugle Street to accommodate the vendors. City Hall later removed several other bus parks with similar intention.
Several vendors who ply their trade in the Stabroek Wharf area were brought to tears when they were confronted by City Hall staffers cordoning off the entrances to their vending area.
This move came approximately two weeks after the M&CC had issued a notice informing the vendors of its plans to remove them from the dilapidated area in order to facilitate rehabilitation works there.
The Public Infrastructure Ministry has reportedly undertaken to rehabilitate the Stabroek Market Wharf, which has been in a deplorable state for many years.
On Monday, several of the displaced vendors were constructing stalls at their relocated spots at the Route 42 Bus Park.
A visit to the area on Monday showed that vendors were being assisted by construction workers to build wooden structures.
The section allocated for the relocation was cordoned off and each vendor’s space was demarcated.
Many of the stall owners said that they were working assiduously to finish construction before month end, since the busy Christmas shopping season would commence soon.
“Christmas coming so we trying to catch all that we miss for since September time. A lot of money we lose…you couldn’t sell how you used to,” a vendor said.
The wooden stalls are elevated on concrete blocks so that deconstruction would be easy. There is also a concrete structure in progress which is expected to house restroom facilities.
The Council had decided at a previous statutory meeting that the vendors would have to construct their own stalls as one would cost approximately $400,000.
It is mandatory that the eight feet by ten feet structure with a maximum height of 13 feet be constructed with wooden materials and six weeks after completion of the stalls, a sum of $85 per square foot per month will be collected for sanitation and other services.