No Christmas concession for city vendors

By Jaime Hall
Guyana Chronicle
November 14, 2002

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The new vending site where Water and Commerce Streets vendors are to be relocated
GEORGETOWN Mayor Hamilton Green says there will be no spacial Christmas concession for persons who would be vending in some sections of the city during the upcoming holiday season.

He said the City Council will maintain its position in dealing with persons who are encumbering the pavement, particularly along the Water Street area, while carrying out their vending activities.

A few weeks ago, the Council moved a group of about 40 vendors who had been operating along Water and Commerce Streets in the vicinity of the East Coast bus park, where a huge building is being constructed. An area along the Berbice car park was provided for those vendors to be relocated.

The Mayor said the vending situation has become very complex because of the difficulties the Council has been experiencing in relocating vendors.

"We don't intend to allow any more vendors on the street and we do not have any spacial Christmas concessions", he asserted.

Already, there is evidence of an influx of new sellers. However, Green noted that "people keep behaving as though this vending issue is a matter for the City Council...we are at the end of a chain of circumstances which will require a more intense and more multi-faceted approach".

He said they are a few or more reasons why people are vending, which include a general lack of employment, but all the reasons could be only be determined if a proper analysis is done.

Green added that if it is that people are only encumbering the pavement to make a living and not trying to do anything else substantial, or just want to prey on the current economic situation, these are reasons justifiable enough to move them off. But, he said, the Council does not have all the information to act upon.

"This is a very 'tricky situation' because I do not think there are any two vendors out there with the same compulsion, and the situation becomes one that requires Government's intervention, but not at the level they have been dealing with the matter all the time", the Mayor said.

Up to yesterday when the Chronicle visited the area where the vendors are to be relocated, only four had begun to occupy the space that was made available there. A number of make-shift stalls have already been erected at the location by the vendors, which is an indication of some willingness to go there and sell.

One said she has no major problem with the new vending site except for the physical environment which needs some cleaning. There is a garbage heap just near where the stalls are erected.

The vendor said she is being affected by the stench of urine. Persons usually go there in the absence of a public sanitary facility.

She said that a written proposal to the Mayor and City Council which was submitted by the group of sellers had included the need for a public sanitary facility in the area as one of the conditions for removing to the new location.

However, there has been no substantial work done by the Council to tidy up the area and install the facility.

The vendor said the current condition of the area is one of the possible reasons why the others sellers are hesitant to occupy the space.

Once the situation is corrected, she said she could operate comfortably there, and believes others would as well. The vendor said that currently sales are going very slow, but she hopes business will pick up as the holiday season approaches.

By that time most of the other vendors should settle in at the new location and make it more attractive for shoppers. "Everybody want to be in the limelight at the front (in Water Street). Nobody want to come down here and sell. How they expect business to pick up?", she questioned.

Another clothes vendor who was removed by the Council from Commerce Street managed to squeeze his operation in a little available space nearby other sellers in the Water Street area.

He said he prefers to operate from there and does not intend to go to the new area which was provided. The reason he gave is because most of the people shopping would walk along Water Street which is more convenient for them.

He said people are hardly shopping in the new area and he positioned his business in a way to take advantage of shoppers so that he can get reasonable sales to up keep his business.

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