City Council orders Bourda Street vendors to move
New area identified for them
By Nigel Williams
May 30, 2003
Twenty-seven vendors, occupying stalls on Bourda Street between Regent Street and North Road, have been given notice to move before midnight last night and to relocate to a spot identified by the Mayor and City Council.
The vendors, including a 76-year-old woman who has been doing business there for 53 years, said their stalls were their only means of earning a livelihood.
To move to another place which was relatively unknown, could prove detrimental. They say the new spot behind Bourda Green is very untidy and near to sewage disposal outlets.
Public Relations Officer of the M&CC Debra Lewis told this newspaper that the oral notice by the council was not untimely since the vendors had been told to move two years ago. She noted that the council was not putting the vendors out of business and had identified a new place for them. She said their stalls were creating serious problems for traffic on Regent Street and some vendors left the place untidy at the end of the day.
Lewis said ever since the vendors were told to move the council had stopped collecting rentals from them. But the vendors told this newspaper they usually paid a rental of $200 every Sunday. Lewis said she found it strange that the vendors were only complaining now when the issue of them having to remove was such an old one.
Stabroek News visited Bourda Street yesterday and observed well kept surroundings with some of the stalls neatly arranged. Deborah, a single mother of ten, said she had been selling there since she was at school. During the afternoon she used to assist her mother with the business. Deborah, like most of the other vendors who would have to move, sells medicinal bushes along with medicines and other homemade products.
She said that on Tuesday a representative from the City Council held a meeting with them to announce the plan. “We were called in at a meeting and the woman who spoke to us just say, `y’all gon gah move from here in the next 24 hours and move to the Bourda Green.’”
Deborah said the vendors had inspected the new location and had agreed that the place was not safe to do business, was insanitary and was out of the way.
She added that some of the stalls which they would now have to take up had been abandoned by other vendors who were not satisfied with business there. “So if those people couldn’t do business there how are we going to survive?” She suggested a spot on the southern side of the street be given to them instead.
Linden Garnette, another herbal medicine vendor who has been selling there for over 15 years, said the council was crying out for more money to run the city and on the other hand it was putting 27 vendors out of business who could contribute to its revenue. Garnette said contrary to what the M&CC had been saying he was told that the council wanted to use the area for the purpose of reserved parking for M&CC staff who work at the Constabulary office just next door.
Viola Payne has been selling herbal medicines for over 23 years and said she would not move unless the M&CC found a more suitable place. Payne said she had already visited the new site and it looked neglected and unhealthy. She said she had a number of customers both foreign and local and it would be very difficult for them to find her at the proposed area. Payne also noted that there were other vendors on the same block who were selling groceries and they were being allowed to stay.
Stabroek News saw at least ten persons with semi-permanent structures selling all types of groceries on the same block. These persons however, declined to comment.
Over the past months the M&CC has been working to regulate street vending and the council has so far secured a judgment against fifty vendors on Water Street for them to remove their stalls at 6 pm every day. The decision is to take effect from June 9.