– President supports relocation, describes area as “Jurassic Park”
By Kizzy Coleman
Scores of Stabroek Market vendors who were not allocated spots in the temporary vending site on Hadfield
Street, Georgetown, on Wednesday protested outside City Hall, bemoaning their exclusion.
The group of about 20 vendors who have not been allocated spots were successful in having an audience with Town Clerk Royston King, who informed them that the temporary vending site was almost at capacity.
He explained that currently 173 persons have already occupied spots in the temporary location, while another 30 applications were being reviewed.
Initially, City Hall had hoped to house 185 vendors at the new location, but because of the lack of space, this was not possible.
“The space is limited, very limited so what we are trying to do is have an accurate register of people who weren’t there before,” King said, adding “we don’t want to put somebody there who wasn’t there before.”
The protesting vendors were subsequently removed from outside City Hall, but continued their protest along Regent Street.
There were shouts of: “We have mouths to fill and no job, this thing is really eating at us!”
Meanwhile, Guyana Times visited the temporary vending site and spoke with a number of relocated vendors, who said they were “comfortable” at the new location and expressed optimism for business.
One vendor, who identified himself as “Deon”, told this publication that business at the location was steadily improving.
“We know once we are here and there is a future ahead of us, things must get better and business is definitely improving. People are now learning of the new location, so we just have to give them a little time,” he stated.
Another vendor, Elroy Jacobs, revealed that the new facility was much more comfortable and secure.
“Well, for me, I am comfortable, I am happy that we got a comfortable place where we could feel secure. In here is much better than out on the roads, 100 per cent better, we just have to give it a try because everything needs a try,” he stated.
Ceon Harry told this publication: “Everything for me here is good. I am enjoying the new location. I know that it is different, but I like it here.”
Some of the relocated vendors are, however, now complaining about being too far back in the facility, which they said was impacting significantly on sales.
They also complained that while they were placed in the facility, others were still operating outside the Stabroek Market.
The vendors want the municipality to improve the facilities there by installing lights and providing potable water.
Meanwhile, President David Granger, during the recording of his weekly television programme, “The Public Interest” expressed support for the relocation process, but said it should have been better managed.
“The only disappointment on my part is the gap that existed between the actual dismantling of stalls and the occupation of the new area,” he stated.
The Head of State said he was disappointed with the state of the iconic Stabroek Market which he described as a “Jurassic Park”.
He also noted that the area was unsafe and unhealthy and urgently needed enhancement.
President Granger also spoke of his intentions to keep that area clear, dashing any hopes of the vendors to return to the location.
Controversy erupted last week when the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) moved to relocate the vendors from outside the Stabroek Market, as part of its efforts to spruce up the area, ahead of Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary.
The vendors, despite being given prior notice, were reluctant to move, having vended at the location for decades, and also complained about not being provided with a proper location.
The municipality was faced with protests after it had removed the vendors without properly securing an alternative.