Towards a solution for the Water Street vendors

Guyana Chronicle
June 20, 2001

AFTER years of tug 'o war, a solution seems to be in sight for the problem of the vendors on Water Street, Georgetown with the involvement of Central Government, the City Council and the sellers.

Fresh hope has been stirred following the intervention by President Bharrat Jagdeo at the request of the vendors in what seemed to be a never-ending episode.

The courts and the City Council had addressed this matter on several occasions without any amicable solution and on each occasion the vendors were in opposition to the municipality.

The genesis of it all was that the City Council had allowed the vendors to sell on the pavements of Regent Street and Water Street with the use of collapsible stalls and doing their business from six in the morning to six in the evening.

The vendors were also expected to clean up the surroundings at the end of each day, which they did only for a time.

The agreements between the sellers and City Hall broke down and attempts at regularising the situation were futile.

This prompted the vendors to take to the courts which slapped an injunction against City Hall restraining it from removing the vendors until the hearing and determination of the matter.

Following the determination of the matter, vendors who were ordered to remove by the court, applied for an extension which was granted them.

After some time, the council successfully removed the Regent Street vendors with the permission of the courts while their counterparts on Water Street continued to hawk their goods.

However, another extension to stay was running out on them and they decided to seek the President's intervention.

The President, after listening to the plight of the vendors, sympathised and ought solutions through talks with those involved.

While many feel that the vendors were filling a void by selling on the pavements, established business places complained that they were encumbering the pathway to their places and affecting their trade.

Like President Jagdeo, many believe that since the vendors had been there for several years, making a living through their trade, compassion would dictate that they be allowed to continue not far away from Water Street.

The President recently held a meeting with the Mayor of Georgetown, Mr. Hamilton Green and the vendors, determined to find a solution.

And this he did, as he announced with overwhelming support from the vendors that the Government proposed acquiring the Toolsie Persaud site on Water Street for the vendors to continue their trade.

This plot of land had been idle for years and the President said the government intends to purchase it from the owners.

Many feel that once this parcel of land is acquired, there will be uniformity and vendors will ply their trade in an atmosphere more conducive to business and there will be no encumbrances to the business houses on Water Street.