Vendors given leave to file contempt lawsuit against NA Council By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
April 27, 2002

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Seven vendors through their attorney have been granted leave to file contempt proceedings against the Mayor and Town Council and the Town Clerk of New Amsterdam.

This follows an alleged breach by the council of an Order made on March 19, 2002 by Justice Oswell Legall on an application from the plaintiffs.

The Order stated inter alia that the first and second named defendants (the Mayor and Town Council and the Town Clerk) give the court a further undertaking that they would provide security for vendors' stalls during the reconstruction of the New Amsterdam Market under the Urban Development Programme (UDP) and that the said stalls will not be removed from their location in the market. Justice Legall also ordered that the first and second named defendants by consent give an undertaking that the construction works at the market where the plaintiffs' stalls are located will be completed within three weeks commencing from March 20.

The plaintiffs were instructed to vacate their stalls on the afternoon of March 19 for a period of three weeks and were required to give the court an undertaking to secure their stocks in their stalls. Some 50 vendors in the front section of the market complied with the Judge's Order and vacated their stalls on March 20 with the understanding that the section they occupied would have been completed within three weeks permitting their return.

The council, however, proceeded to break and remove their stalls from the market and to transport the materials to another council facility in Stanleytown in violation of the Judge's Order. The council then argued that the stalls removed were termite-infested. The matter was adjourned to April 12 when the court was informed of the alleged breach. Counsel for the plaintiffs requested and was granted leave to file contempt proceedings and the matter was again adjourned to yesterday.

Work on the reconstruction of the market at a cost of $109 million commenced in April 2001 with the understanding that the works will be executed in phases allowing for vendors to be accommodated during the project. In an effort to minimise the expected inconvenience, the contractors S. A. Nabi and Sons provided temporary accommodation for vendors at the rear of the market at a cost of $1 million.

Reconstruction of the market which houses in excess of 700 vendors was scheduled to be completed February last, 10 months after commencement.

However, Stabroek News understands that placement problems negated plans to execute the project in phases coupled with the need for the contractor to submit a new work programme for the Fish Section.

Within recent weeks a number of vendors have been forced to remove from the market and to seek spots along its entrance and the Strand on the shoulders of the road. Some have even been forced to occupy the pavement along the main shopping centre of Pitt Street. The congestion has created a nightmare for traffic with very little space left for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists in and around the Town Hall area.

Town Clerk Laurel Alfred on Monday said the council was not in a position to say when the project will be completed.

Under the UDP, Pitt Street (east) and parallel drains are also being rehabilitated. Some US$5 million is to be spent on municipal strengthening, infrastructure rehabilitation and property tax reform under a loan agreement.

Approximately US$20 million is to be expended on the country's six municipalities in a programme that is being funded by the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Guyana.