Urgent attention needed to address illegal vending in Georgetown

Dear Editor,
Upon reading recent press reports, it has come to my attention that yet another court order has been issued by the High Court against the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown. This order specifically directs the City Engineer to remove all encumbrances placed by vendors from the pavements and streets surrounding a business entity.
This repetitive legal recourse, undertaken by numerous business owners over the years to restore civility, security, and structure to their surroundings, prompts me to question the City’s commitment to ensuring the freedom of every business from such nuisances. Must every business owner have to resort to legal action to secure relief? How could the City, in good conscience, receive commercial property rates from these business owners?
The persistence of unlawful vending has fostered a belief among illegal operators that they have a right to encroach upon parapets, pavements, and business fronts. Some vendors erroneously assume that official approval and payment of a cleaning fee to the municipality legitimise their operations.
It is crucial to emphasize that such actions do not legitimise illegal vending. In fact, most pavement vending remains illegal, and therefore the City should not only act upon individual court orders, but should remove vendors from around all business places. As the saying goes, “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander”.
The Georgetown City Council bears a significant responsibility for the current state of affairs in our capital. For decades, the municipality has failed to curtail illegal vending, inadvertently contributing more to its encouragement than discouragement. The Council’s claim that this issue extends beyond its capacity is questionable, especially when considering the successful restriction of vending around City Hall. The fact that the perimeter of City Hall remains off-limits to vendors demonstrates that the City Council possesses the capability to control pavement and roadside vending.
As we anticipate a new era under the leadership of the recently-elected Mayor, there is an urgent need for proactive measures to reshape downtown Georgetown. It is my hope that the new municipal directorate, in collaboration with the municipal administration, will address this longstanding issue decisively, taking bold steps to rectify the current chaotic state of affairs in the city in time for Christmas.

Jermain Johnson