Vendors warned to maintain order

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
December 8, 2000

Electricity, potable water and public telephones are some of the necessities that would be provided for all the vendors on Merriman's Mall. However, nothing comes free and vendors must maintain order and obey rules.

This was the warning given to the wholesale vendors on the mall by Mayor of Georgetown, Hamilton Green, when he met them yesterday. The wholesalers had been temporarily relocated to the John Forde car park to facilitate the upgrading of the mall. They are expected to return to the mall by Monday.

"Order and rules ought to be obeyed," Green told the vendors who were very receptive of everything he said. The mayor told the vendors that a democratic civil society could not function effectively unless rules were obeyed. He reminded them that government and the council had spent some $9 million to upgrade the mall and as such order and high standards must be maintained. The mayor expressed his displeasure at seeing food sold under very unhealthy conditions on the mall and made it clear that such behaviour must be put to an end.

According to a proposal drafted for the vendors, the 25 wholesale vendors, who already utilize the area would be allowed 8' x 8' spots and would occupy them from 12 noon on Wednesday to 6:00 pm on Thursday of each week. Additionally, the 33 vendors who utilize the wholesalers' spots will vend on Fridays and Saturdays, as has been the practice since the issue was discussed and a compromise arrived at before the then Justice Denis Hanomansingh in the High Court.

The 72 daily vendors will be allocated 4' x 8' spots, a little larger than the 4' x 5' spots they occupied in the past.

However, the seemingly well-structured proposal did not come without a price, according to Mayor Green, as each stall holder must have proper bins with covers. He pointed out that this was necessary as the council was attempting to make the vendors look good and they must co-operate.

Stating categorically that the issue was not negotiable, Green warned the vendors that any person found operating without a covered bin would be removed by the Chief Constable.

The vendors expressed their desire to have a security station on the mall and the mayor promised that the issue would be worked out between the council and them.

Deputy Mayor, Robert Williams, told the vendors that on the allocation of stalls they could decide that among themselves, or they could transfer the responsibility to the council which would allocate spots.

This suggestion did not go down well with the vendors and on their insistence the mayor said that the Clerk of Markets will number the spots in the presence of everyone and would place the numbers in a bag allowing each vendors to pull a number. The mayor added that husbands and wives would be treated as one in order for broad distribution of the limited spots available.

Green appealed to the vendors to lift the level of their operations and beautify their surroundings. "Make a mental decision to change from the hog pen situation." He warned the vendors that no one person could be a wholesaler, retailer and a husker as the council would be quite firm on the issue. The mayor said he hoped that a partnership would be established between the council and the vendors and for this to happen mutual respect and understanding must be maintained.

Williams told the vendors that they were on their way to becoming distinguished entrepreneurs who would be seen by tourists. He also asked all the talk show hosts who had been bombarding the council to now support the council in helping the vendors.

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