Vendors protest removal

By Amanda Wilson
Guyana Chronicle
October 1, 2000

VENDORS yesterday protested in front of the Mayor and City Council's Regent Street, Georgetown entrance after they found their stalls dismantled by engineers attached to the Council.

The stalls were removed at around 06:00 hours (6 am) yesterday morning and vendors said that they were not given notices to remove from that area.

More than 50 vendors displayed cards with slogans including `We had no notice that we cannot sell'; `Fight Suriname, don't fight us'; `Total disrespect'; `We must sell we have children to feed'; `This is an attack on poor people'.

They argued that City Council should have given them a specific time to sell out their goods and are calling on President Bharrat Jagdeo to look into the matter.

A statement from Mayor Hamilton Green said the stalls were dismantled in accordance with a decision made by the Courts during last week. (See page one story)

"Acting on the decision of the Courts during the week, and in keeping with our Statuary responsibilities and duties, the Georgetown Municipality ... cleared a number of encumbrances in Regent Street", the statement noted.

It also said that the Council and vendors had reached an agreement that stalls should be removed at night. However, instead of sealing that arrangement, vendors continued to indulge in bad practices.

"At one time, an agreement was reached with the vendors requiring them to move all encumbrances at night. However, instead of signing an agreement arrived at after discussions, which would have led to the withdrawing of the injunction, they persisted to indulge in practices that continue to hurt the city", the statement said.

One vendor said she left her stall in the cemetery opposite Bourda Market, but when she arrived yesterday morning, it was gone.

She added that no notice was served to her and she has more than $500,000 in goods.

P>"They should have given me a notice so that I could have sold out my goods. I have more than $500,000 in goods on my hands", she argued.

The woman said that after she realised City Council had removed the stalls, she decided to sell from a cart, but was stopped by a Council worker.

"The Council worker told me `No selling on Regent Street from now' and told me to pack up my goods. I have my children to look after and bills to pay. I have to buy school books and other things for my children and pay `Singer', `Courts', GPL and buy food for my house," she said.

Another vendor said when he arrived on Regent Street at around 07:30 hours (7:30 am) he only saw the spot where his stall use to be.

"I later learnt that the injunction City Council had filed against vendors came through in their favour Friday. They could have told us about it instead of breaking down our stalls", the man said.

He added that in addition to paying the bank, he has three children to send to school and pay for extra lessons.

"Everybody has to live. Every dollar counts these days. Council always removes us coming on to Christmas time. If they want to clear Regent Street, then they have to find an alternative place for us to go," the man argued.

During the protest, the angry vendors attempted to prevent a City Council vehicle from entering the compound by standing in front of it. They also tried to push the gate open.

Policemen, including members from the Mounted Branch, were present throughout the demonstration.

Up to 16:00 hours (4 pm) yesterday afternoon a few vendors were still sitting on the pavement in front of City Council.

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