Rosignol vendors still refusing to occupy market
Deny stoning NDC office By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
May 23, 2002

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Protesting Rosignol embankment vendors on Tuesday refuted claims that they were responsible for the stoning of the Rosignol/Zee Lust Neigbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) office on Monday and they say they don't intend to occupy the market built for them.

However, officials of the NDC on Tuesday stuck to their claims that the vendors visited the office, located a short distance from where the bone of contention is, and after being unable to speak to any officials became violent and stoned the building.

When Stabroek News visited the NDC office on Tuesday its doors were closed and the guard on duty told this newspaper that officials did not feel safe after Monday's incident and decided to close the office for the day.

The security guard pointed out one window facing the road, which he claimed the vendors had stoned and this newspaper noticed that a few of the louvre panes from the window were missing. Also, part of a smaller window on the building was broken and according to the security guard the vendors also partially destroyed part of the stairway. It was observed that the first two of the seven steps were broken, but even without that the stairway appeared to be in need of urgent repair.

Stabroek News was told that after the vendors became violent employees were forced to call the police who dispersed the protestors.

But it was an altogether different story that was told to this newspaper by the vendors who huddled together in the rain on the railway embankment where they vowed to remain and not occupy the market built for them. They said that officials invited them to a meeting at the office but when they arrived they were told that there was no meeting. They said that they became angry but did not stone the building, just simply left.

Giving this newspaper a brief history of the existing problem, the vendors said that a few years ago they had held a meeting with the NDC and the Ministry of Local Government where plans to build a market on Carriage Road, Rosignol, were unfolded. The vendors said that from the time the information was made public they objected to the market being built there, since according to them it was away from their customers.

This argument by the vendors was the same put forward by another set of vendors about two years ago. Vendors who sold on a roadway in the Mon Repos community had protested for a long period and refused to occupy the market which was just a stone's throw away from where they sold.

However, after some time they moved into the market after Minister within the Ministry of Local Government, Clinton Collymore made it compulsory that they all sell in the market.

The Rosignol market is located about half a mile from where they are now and just a short distance away from the Rosignol Ferry Stelling on the main road. The West Berbice vendors said that after the market was built they told officials that they were not going to occupy it.

They said that they had been selling on the embankment for the last 35 years and had no intention of removing from the area.

According to them, they have been paying market fees to the NDC and they did not see the logic in moving.

They said that they had actually moved into the market but returned to the roadside 13 days later because they were not making many sales. However, this could have been because other vendors remained on the embankment.

After the vendors returned to the road, they took the NDC to court, but they said the matter was thrown out because they could not raise the money for their lawyer to argue the case. Following this, on March 27, members of the NDC visited the embankment and broke down the vendors' stalls ordering them to occupy the market. The vendors returned to the market and spent 27 days after which they returned to their old site because they were not making sufficient sales.

"Sometimes I would stay the whole day in the market and I would only make $125 and me goods does spoil," one vendor said.

The vendors made two trips to the Office of the President to air their grievances and on the second visit three of them were seen and were told to take the issue to Collymore.

Following the discussion with the minister, the vendors said, he visited the area and promised that he would make a decision that was satisfactory to both them and the NDC.

As such, the vendors said, they were very surprised when the NDC hired persons to dig a large drain in the area where they were selling.

They said that it was claimed that the ministry gave them instructions to dig the drain. "All dem years we deh hay and we begging fuh dem to do something about the drain and they never do it," a vendor lamented on Tuesday.

They said that on Monday their stalls were once again broken down. By Tuesday, the vendors had erected makeshift stalls and it was business as usual for them. They said that it was only on Saturdays the new market was filled with sellers from all over the country.

"We plan to remain here on a daily basis, we ent moving," one vendor declared to the concurrence of the others.

They said that the issue was not a political one, but they were "fighting for our rights." They called for both President Bharrat Jagdeo and leader of the PNC/R Desmond Hoyte to look into their matter urgently.