Vendors standoff continues in city

Guyana Chronicle
October 24, 2000

THE standoff between the City Council and vendors it has cleared from the Regent Street pavements continued yesterday with three hawkers reported arrested for selling without permission.

Sellers also clashed with City Constables as they attempted to vend on the pavement between Regent and Wellington Streets.

Some vendors last week began selling under the condemned building at the corner of Regent and Wellington Streets but when they turned up yesterday they found a fence around the yard.

The fence was put up by the owner of the property, City Hall Public Relations Officer, Mr Royston King said.

He added that the City Council was still enforcing the court order preventing vending on Regent Street.

Sellers yesterday continued putting out items for sale on wooden pallets across the drain between the pavement and the street.

Angry vendors armed with big sticks resisted City Constables who tried to remove the items, some of which were on the pavement.

The sellers chanted and beat drums and burnt incense sticks on the street to get rid of the constables but the rituals did not work and the ranks stayed their ground.

Traffic around the area moved at a snail's pace throughout the day as the constabulary members armed with batons stood guard at the corner of Regent and Wellington Streets, to ensure no vending took place.

However, some vendors displayed pieces of clothing at the front and side of the condemned building.

Members of the Police Force were on hand to back up the City Constabulary units if needed.

As the two sides faced off, television talk show host Mr Mark Benschop was almost arrested during a confrontation with the City Constables.

King said some vendors were walking and selling on the street but not on the pavements.

The spokesman added that the section of the Merriman's Mall identified for placing the vendors was ready, as was Bourda Street, between Regent and Charlotte Streets, to accommodate about 80 vendors.

The vendors were to have taken up stalls in these locations from yesterday but there were no signs of activity there.

The group at the condemned building site has said it will not be taking up the alternative spots because sellers will lose business.

Most prefer to sell on Regent Street.

On Saturday, a City Constable was wounded when vendors and ranks of the City Constabulary clashed as they attempted to remove hawkers from the pavements.

Vendors have challenged the court order City Hall got earlier this month to keep them off Regent Street and the matter is due for hearing tomorrow before Justice Carl Singh. (STACEY DAVIDSON)

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