The curfew on Water St vendors
What the People say about...
By Johann Earle
Stabroek News
June 16, 2003

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Last week, the City Council in keeping with a court order removed structures used by vendors on Water Street. Stabroek News asked the man/woman in the street, including vendors, their reaction to this action and the City Councilís prohibiting of vendors or related structures being on Water Street before 7 am and after 6 pm daily.

Paul Forde - clothes vendor: ĎItís tight because itís costing me $1,400 to ply my trade. If clothes could be sold up to 8 pm or the stall could be left, then that will be OK. Now I have to move the stall and pay for my goods to store. Itís not easy in Guyana. Itís costing me $37,000 per month. Instead of 6 pm, they should extend the time by two or three hours. Remember you have to move your goods from point A to point B. Packing of the items takes time because it is the same set of people who pack everything. Central Government doesnít see the side effects of these things, they just say ďyou got to move.Ē Why canít I get a decent life in my own country?í

Sandra Pyle - footwear vendor: 6 oíclock is too short a time. Sometimes we only start selling at 4 pm and by 4.30 - 5 pm you have to start packing up. We are complying, we are cleaning the place. On Fridays the stores close at 6 pm and that is the time when a lot of people will be passing. We are women, we canít move these stalls and goods. We have to wait on the cart men to move them. Since the constables breaking down the stands, people are not shopping. I have to mind my mother and my husband suffered a stroke. We take things on credit from traders and we canít pay because of this. We really need some more time, like up to 7 pm. They donít even want us to put out our items before 7 am. People have bank loans to pay also house rent and light bill. Itís hard.í

Sandy Hemraj - watch vendor: ĎI think that the City Council should allow us to leave the stalls. We had to be in the rain packing our stuff. In the afternoon when the stores close we get a little more customers. We should be able to leave the stands but take the other things away. The time should be changed to 6 am to 7 pm instead of 7 am to 6 pm. When the structures have to be fixed, people donít want to walk on the pavement. The parking of vehicles is also affected along Water Street. People donít want to buy from you because they think that they may not see you again if they want to exchange something.í

Colin Douglas - bag vendor: ĎThe moving of the stalls is not a problem but the packing up is hard. Between the hours of 4.30 and 5 pm is when people come to buy. That is the time when workplaces close and people are going home. They should say that by 8 pm everything must be off the road. To be off the road by 6 pm is very hard. We canít do any business because we have to be busy packing our stuff. People might be passing early to buy something and at the same time you are still unpacking. Sales really rough because when your customers come, you have to get off the road. You canít do anything much if you have to close at 6 pm. The President must do something about this matter. We want to hear from him. He had said to remain until he got a place for us.í

Vanessa Collymore - private sector employee: ĎThe City Councilís decision to remove the vendors by 6 pm is nonsense. Half of the people are not coming out to sell and prices will go up, because the vendors now have to pay cart men to move their goods and stalls everyday. Early in the morning you could have stopped and shop, but you canít do that now. I believe that the vendors should be placed in a mall or something of the sortí.

Joan Ross - wares vendor: ĎThe Council donít want us to use any zinc sheets or tarpaulins to shelter ourselves while selling. We have to use umbrellas. We canít work with umbrellas. I used to be wrapping gifts for people, now I donít think that will be possible. We have wares which can turn brittle in the heat. We are asking the Council to at least use tarpaulins. Because of the conditions here we canít bring out everything and that is causing us to lose sales. Members of the City Council are coming with guns in the afternoons. We are complying with them. If they were expecting a war then they are disappointed. Out here is where you get things when everywhere else is closed.í

Dhanwanti Cholram - greens vendor: ĎIt is very hard. At 3 am I go to Bourda Market to buy greens before I come here. They tell us that we canít sell till 7 am. I am a vendor for fifteen years and I have two children and no husband. When you canít sell, things spoil and you have to throw everything away. We used to pack up when the place got dark, now they are telling us we have to move by 6 pm. We are out here a long time now and they are giving us a hard time. I have a daughter sitting Common Entrance and a mother to look after.í

Dharmendra Kumar - variety store manager: ĎWe depend on the vendors. They come and buy goods from us and if they donít get sales they canít buy from us. I believe that they should get some more time to pack up their goods. At Christmas people do a lot of shopping and 6 pm closing time would be inadequate. I have seen a drop in vendors buying from the store because of this ruling. The vendors sometimes block the passageway to the store.í

Bobby Ramdass - watch vendor: ĎFor me it is not a big problem because I just have to put my stuff in one of the stores. But it is hard for other people who have to pack up. From about 5, people start to pack up, depending on the nature of their goods. According to what I see everybody is almost against the wall selling and because of this, the road is clear for vehicles to pass. If you move people and you donít have any place to put them, itís bad. People have children to look after.í

Christopher Gomes - fruit vendor: ĎI donít think that it is right for the vendors to have to pack up and move by 6 pm. We have to sell from 7 am to 6 pm and my goods are perishable. At Christmas people shop late so what will happen to them? We usually sell up to about midnight at Christmas time. If they are concerned about security then they should have police patrols or improve the lighting situation on the streets. This is a business and the Council have to put the money they are collecting to good use.í

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