Most Water Street permanent stalls torn down by city
By Nigel Williams
Stabroek News
June 11, 2003

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Around eighty per cent of the permanent stalls on Water Street were completely pulled down by 6 pm last night as vendors began complying with a Court of Appeal order.

The Mayor and City Council continued yesterday to demolish the stalls of those who failed to obey. On Water Street a handful of vendors were seen taking their own time in removing their structures while some completely ignored the order and were still doing business at 7 pm last night. The City Engineerís Department was not in the area at that time. The area in front of Stabroek Market was clear by 6:30 pm.

Last nightís dismantling activities were concentrated on other vending areas around the city. A much larger workforce than on Monday tackled vendors around the Demico House area, demolishing their stands and fetching away pieces of boards and galvanised sheets that were left on the road. As usual the city workers were met with fierce rebukes but they managed to take control of the situation. City Constables, backed by police officers, kept the vendors away while a bulldozer and two huge trucks got rid of the stands. Last nightís operations were to continue further along the No. 45 bus park and then onto Water Street. A source at the M&CC told this newspaper that despite the City Council getting the court judgment over only the Water Street vendors it was using the opportunity to regulate street vending across the city. Other areas such as the East Coast bus park, Longden, Hinck and Commerce streets, the area to the east of Stabroek Market and other corners will be tackled by the M&CC during the course of the week.

Meanwhile, business activity on Water Street continued normally yesterday morning despite the M&CC actions the night before.

The council had knocked down a number of stalls but most of the vendors whose stalls were broken found other materials yesterday and rebuilt collapsible stands. Some even built trays and were seen displaying their goods.

As a result of the City Councilís operations the area on Water Street around Universal Bookstore has now become an eyesore with huge piles of debris all over the street and in the median, blocking the free flow of traffic.

It was evident that the council did remove a number of stalls in front of the Stabroek Market as parts of the pavement which had not seen daylight for years were clear.

During a walk around the street yesterday morning, Stabroek News observed that with the exception of a few vendors all the others had returned to do business. Vilma, a mother of four, said she had no other choice but to continue her business as it was her livelihood.

There is a non-functioning Vendorís Association, which Vilma mentioned, saying that at this point in time they had no representative. She said some of the vendors were planning to meet very soon to iron out a few issues with regards to their conduct on the street. She said while everybody was disappointed at the M&CCís latest action, they were aware of other serious issues which the vendors themselves had to put in order.

The vendors seemed willing to comply with the order, but their main concern was the lack of a secure place to store their goods. Some footwear vendors who operate around the old Guyana Stores Workshop told this newspaper yesterday that they had nowhere for their stocks. According to the vendors because of the large quantities they need to keep they had to build small shops. One man said that he slept in his shop and that other persons did the same. He told Stabroek News that most of the vendors on the street were persons who lived out of town and could not afford to travel with their goods everyday. Many persons were seen transporting their stocks on canter trucks yesterday and some hired taxis.

On the western side of Water Street persons who had been doing business there for years were seen dismantling their stands. Vijay, a vendor who had been selling there for over six years, said that he was packing up and looking for another place.

The man noted that if he were to comply with the order he would have to close off business at 4 pm to give him enough time to pack up his goods. He told this newspaper that 4 pm was when he usually got most of his sales from workers heading home. He was convinced that he could not keep up with the Councilís rigid schedule and as such he was moving. He mentioned that he had other colleagues on the street who were planning to do the same.

Up to yesterday Vijay was still operating his stall where he sells household articles. He said this would be his last week.

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