Vendors set up makeshift stalls on Regent Street
Shots fired, missiles thrown in clash with lawmen

By Desiree Jodah
Stabroek News
October 22, 2000

Shots were fired and missiles were thrown as Regent Street vendors and members of the City Constabulary faced off yesterday, after the hawkers in defiance of City Hall, resumed business on the pavement.

Public Relations Officer of the Mayor and City Council, Royston King, and a senior city police officer denied claims by vendors that a constable had pointed a gun at a child.

Some vendors were bolder yesterday resorting to their old activities of displaying their wares on palettes placed across the drain between Wellington and Camp street and on makeshift walls.

On September 29, the vendors had been barred from selling on the busy commercial street, following the dismissal of an injunction which they had obtained against City Hall.

Constables in an attempt to enforce the court ruling, turned up at the troubled area yesterday and were engaged in a confrontation with angry vendors.

Spokesperson for the vendors, Mansa Amin told Stabroek News that a constable went to a stall owned by a female vendor and pointed a gun at her son. He said vendors became angry and confronted the constable. According to Amin, the constable fired a shot in the air and the vendors retaliated by throwing bottles.

However, King said that the constable who was hit with a bottle on his head which resulted in a cut, did not point the gun at the child. He admitted that the constable was armed, but said that he was no "mad man" to point a gun at a child.

Vendors cited the ruling of Chief Justice Desiree Bernard in which she gave Water Street hawkers one month to comply with a licence granted to them by City Hall to vend between 0700 hrs and 1800 hrs, on the agreement that they remove their stalls at the end of the day. The ruling was made on Friday.

The Regent Street vendors said that they were discriminated against in that the Water Street sellers were allowed to continue vending, while they could not.

In a bid to settle the issue President Bharrat Jagdeo facilitated a meeting between officials of the M&CC and representatives of the vendors.

A statement from the M&CC which was issued after the meeting, said that it was agreed that there would be no vending on Regent Street and that vendors would be relocated on the Merriman's Mall between Orange Walk and Light Street. Vendors were also offered stalls on Orange Walk and Bourda Street.

However, the vendors said that they never agreed that they would not vend on Regent Street. Amin said that they had submitted a proposal to the M&CC saying that the vendors would form a "strong committee" to ensure that the entrances of stores along Regent Street were not blocked and that the pavement would be kept clear for pedestrians. He said the M&CC had not responded to their proposal.

While the constables watched helplessly from the sanctuary of the Guyoil Service Station across the street, the vendors continued their business.

An application for a stay of execution of Justice Carl Singh's order which cleared the way for the vendors removal will come up for arguments on Wednesday.

Follow the goings-on in Guyana
in Guyana Today