Plans still on for new city vendors site in Water Street

Guyana Chronicle
August 14, 2001

THE acquisition of the Toolsie Persaud Limited plot of land as the relocation site for the Water Street, Georgetown vendors, is one solution which the Government is not going to give up too easily on, Secretary to the Cabinet, Dr. Roger Luncheon said yesterday.

And despite the apparent delays and obstruction to the project, he feels the proposed September 1 date for the site to be prepared can still be met.

The Government has made it abundantly clear that the Water Street vendors will be relocated to the site in Water Street, he stressed.

He pointed out too that because of the delay in acquiring the plot, there will be an increased cost in making the place suitable for vending purposes, as those who will be employed to do the job, which entails grading the area, providing a well-surfaced tarmac, drainage, water supply and other amenities, may have to work double shifts in order to meet the deadline.

The cost, he said, will be just and reflects the abiding concerns of the Office of the President since the problem surfaced.

Dismissing claims that the administration was seeking to use "illegal and improper" methods to acquire the property for public purposes, Luncheon contended that what will create difficulties for everyone will be the concerns of those whose livelihood are at stake because of the delay in acquiring the property.

He said though that the Government is "fairly resolute" that the Toolsie Persaud Limited property on Water Street will be the site of the new vendors arcade, and vowed that the current issues which are the cause of the delay would have to be resolved, as it is not in the interest of the Government to have the process delayed unnecessarily.

The expectation of the current owners is to get as much as they can, Luncheon said, but added that the Government is aware of the initial cost of the property, what was done with it and what could have been done - all information which is being used in the determination of an acquisition cost and which it has difficulty in getting the owners to accept.

In a statement yesterday, Toolsie Persaud Limited (TPL) said it has concluded that the best arrangement is for the Government to permanently acquire the plot for the Water Street vendors.

It said this decision was made given the Government's stance on the lease fee, "its intractable position on utilising the site and repeatedly irate statements by vendors about inadequacy of the five-year lease."

"The owning of the property by (the) state would be ideal for all concerned. It would allow for the unfettered development of the property to accommodate vendors in a much more comfortable, customer-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way", the firm said.

But the company is seeking a market-related price for the land which takes into account infrastructural work done.

It has also proposed a straight equitable exchange for a property under the control of the Government which is appropriate to its commercial activities and diversification plans.

"In pursuance of this proposal, TPL has already identified such a property about which it has informed the Government, and also submitted separate assessments of the value of its property by a qualified, independent Chartered Quantity Surveyor and a Chartered Land Appraiser for the purpose of determining a market driven purchase price".

TPL said it is not seeking to make a profit, but simply to recoup its investment in the site.

It added that it would prefer to keep the site which it said was the "centre piece of the company's future plans".

TPL said the Government's decision to make the plot of land available for use by the vendors was made without reference to the company and came as a complete shock.

The company last month agreed to lease the plot for five years to relocate the Water Street vendors.