City Hall rigid on stall removal
--vendors in picketing exercise

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
March 17, 2000

City Hall officials are adamant that street vendors must remove their structures by six o'clock in the evening and the sellers have resorted to picketing to protest the council's action.

Vendors, especially those in the commercial areas were given three extensions by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to make alternative arrangements for their structures after six o'clock in evening. Their latest deadline expired on Wednesday night.

About 30 vendors yesterday picketed in front of City Hall in Regent Street and in front of Freedom House on Robb Street demanding the release of the Guyana Stores Ltd (GSL) bond on Water Street and the move over the canal on Commerce Street.

The M&CC had started its dismantling exercise last Saturday, but had stopped after the vendors had requested further meetings on the issue.

Bearing placards which read, "How are we going to survive?", "Give us our daily bread", "Release the bond now", and "We are willing to abide by council's law", the vendors were also chanting "we don't want another Blackie."

Mayor Hamilton Green speaking with reporters said that the issue of the bond was out of council's hands. He said vendors were at a meeting which he had with Minister in the Local Government Ministry, Clinton Collymore, who had asked for a few days to solve the problem. According to Green, the ball was now in the government's court as it pertained to the bond.

Vendors said they had visited Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, to ask that the GSL bond be released for them to sell and store their goods in the evening.

Vendor Joylyn Moore told this newspaper that Dr Luncheon said government was not the owner of the bond. Vendors complained that it was very expensive to move their stalls and their goods every evening.

However, Green said that if the vendors' goods were too bulky to move, it meant that they were not regular vendors, but were into big business. He said that if the vendors had "moved up in life," they should acquire proper premises to conduct their business and pay the required expenses associated with such businesses.

The mayor said there have been complaints of illegal activities associated with the structures at night. According to Green, these include intimate contact, narcotics trafficking and stealing of electricity. He said the M&CC had a duty to maintain the integrity of the city.

Green disclosed that in 1994 when the M&CC had entered into an agreement with the vendors, non-negotiable rules were agreed on. He said that among them were that vendors would wear uniforms, keep their surroundings clean, their structures would be of a certain size, they would not block the entrances of legitimate businesses and that they should sell in such a way so as not to impede the smooth flow of traffic.

According to him, vendors were among the reasons why J.P Santos and Company Ltd on Water Street had to be closed, putting a number of people out of work.

Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, making it clear that the vendors would have to remove after six 'o clock, said the council has had numerous meetings with the sellers to solve this problem.

He said the council has been assisting the vendors to organise themselves to purchase structures to put over the Commerce street canal. He said that on Wednesday he endorsed a paper which the vendors took to the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) for them to secure loans. He said some already have loans with the agency and others were given forms to fill and return.

Williams said that by weekend some work would be done in the Stelling View area, where some vendors are to be relocated. He said the first two rows of stalls would be removed for the routes 31 and 32 mini-buses which ply the west coast-west bank route to park.

He stated that the council would not bend and the vendors would have to move.