City wants $16M loan to prepare Stelling View market for Water Street vendors

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
June 9, 2001

The Mayor & City Council (M&CC) is to approach the National Bank of Industry & Commerce (NBIC) for a $16.5 million loan to prepare the Stelling View area for the Water Street vendors.

According to Town Clerk Beulah Williams who spoke to Stabroek News yesterday, the decision was taken when the council's finance committee met to address the issue last week.

However, some vendors say that Stelling View is not an "option for them."

A spokesperson for the vendors, who preferred not to be named, said that they are looking at other locations. She said that they would be meeting with the council and other stakeholders to find an alternative site.

Williams noted that the vendors were granted a temporary injunction by Justice of Appeal Claudette Singh which will expire on Wednesday, and declared this is "strictly non-negotiable, the vendors have to move."

On that same day, an appeal filed by the vendors against the decision of then Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, now Chancellor, ordering that they be removed from Water Street is expected to commence before Justice Singh.

Williams said that they are looking at a number of ways to improve Stelling View since some 75 percent of the vendors have indicated their willingness to relocate there.

But, she admitted, only some 320 vendors could be accommodated in the Stelling View area which is about 2,000 square feet.

According to Williams, the bank loan would be used to upgrade the area - repair some of the existing stalls, provide electricity, clean the drains, repair all the walkways between the stalls and concrete the ground. In addition, the fences will be pushed back to facilitate more vendors.

Vendors already occupying part of the area would also have to be accommodated in the new arrangement. Most of the Water Street vendors are sellers who were once at Stelling View.

"We are pursuing certain paths to assist them, but all these things call for money. Some of the money we could provide but we need help," the Town Clerk said.

Williams said that she has had reports that some of the vendors met with President Bharrat Jagdeo and he reportedly said that he wants to solve the problem "once and for all."

"I would like to see him do it and I would help him. It would be quite an achievement for me, it is a very hard task and we need money to invest," Williams said.

The council hopes to be able to convince the president on the viability of Stelling View.

The town clerk remarked that President Jagdeo would be a "little disappointed" with the situation regarding Regent Street vendors. Jagdeo had ordered that money be allocated for the preparation of part of Merriman Mall to accommodate the dislocated Regent Street vendors but they later refused to occupy the site.

According to Williams, persons feel the council should not "continue in the same vein with the vendors." She said that it is the general view that the vendors should be given larger stalls.

"They also need to get a better environment and one of the main things we have a problem with is the security," she said.

Williams is suggesting that a "big steel structure" be constructed at Stelling View but that would cost the council some $109 million. "This will lift the standard of vendors to the level of a small mall," she said. However, she conceded that it is "all ambitious thinking." She now expects that good sense would prevail and the vendors would not have to be forcibly taken off the street. "They ought to remove themselves if they have respect for the law."