Vendors, City Council disagree on new site

by Stacey Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
October 12, 2000

SOME of the vendors the City Council has evicted from Regent Street in keeping with a court order yesterday said they were not prepared to move to a section on the Merriman's Mall.

But a council spokesman maintained representatives of the sellers had agreed to take up spots on the mall between Orange Walk and Cummings Street at a meeting Tuesday.

The alternative location was identified when representatives of the displaced vendors and the City Council met President Bharrat Jagdeo and some of his Cabinet ministers Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Hamilton Green and his deputy, Mr Robert Williams were among City Hall officials at the meeting and the council issued a statement afterwards outlining steps agreed on.

City Hall said the meeting at the Office of the President was cordial and there was a "genuine attempt at compromise".

It said all sides recognised the "complex issues involved and agreed to work for the greater good of the city".

The council said it was also agreed that the "sanctity of Regent Street will be maintained" and there would be "no vending and the order of the court respected."

City Hall said the sides agreed that the stretch of land on Merriman's Mall between Orange Walk and Cummings Street "provides the opportunity for a temporary solution to assist those vendors who are removed from Regent Street."

"Wholesalers are now using this area, but with the cooperation of the Ministry of Works, this section will be prepared, in a manner, to allow for this additional use without compromising the wholesalers' activity", the council said.

But some of the sellers maintained they were not going there.

"We are not going there", one insisted yesterday.

The vendors who met yesterday at the entrance of the old Bourda Cemetery, on Regent Street, said they proposed at the meeting to use the cemetery, the John Ford car park, the Fire Station and Bourda Street.

They said these submissions were not agreed to at the meeting, but the Merriman's Mall was identified as a suitable alternative.

"Nobody made any decision...we never agreed to go there. We can't (earn) money there", one seller argued.

The group said they want to stay on Regent Street until after the Christmas season.

Council workers were yesterday clearing the Bourda Cemetery but City Hall Public Relations Officer, Mr Royston King said the vendors will not be placed there.

He said this idea was discussed some time ago but was opposed by members of the Heritage Society charged with protecting historical sites.

"We are just doing some tidying up. We have had problems with the (Bourda) cemetery, and the Heritage people raised some concerns", King offered.

He said the area needs to be preserved because many distinguished persons have been buried there.

King maintained that the vendors agreed to the decision to relocate to Merriman's Mall.

City Hall said the Tuesday meeting also agreed there would be no double occupancy of stalls or space.

Those who already own stalls in and around the municipal markets "will restrict their activities to those areas", the council said.

It said the Housing Minister will consider withdrawing the court injunction against the Orange Walk business project and Bourda Street, up to Charlotte Street to allow proper occupancy.

The City Council will also ensure the proper clearance and cleaning of the waterways along Regent Street to bring relief to residents in contiguous areas.

It said both sides agreed that they would avoid all defamatory or unjust public statements.

Spokesperson of the vendors group, Mr Mansa Amin, who headed a delegation of sellers to the meeting Tuesday, explained that Merriman's Mall was one of the areas proposed for the short-term for vendors who do not have stalls at Orange Walk or Bourda Street.

If the vendors relocate to Merriman's Mall, the plan would automatically become permanent, he claimed, adding that they objected to this because they would lose business.

Amin said that at the meeting, President Jagdeo requested that the Mayor and City Council and the vendors issue a joint press statement, but City Council did not cooperate and published a separate statement.

"We did not get a chance to tell our side of the story", he said.

The spokesperson said constables yesterday seized items of vendors who were walking along the streets selling.

Amin said he consulted the group's lawyer, Mr Nigel Hughes on this matter and it will be addressed in court when the vendors appeal for a stay of execution of the court order blocking them from selling on Regent Street, is called up on October 14.

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