Vendors offered storage space Snarl traffic in Water St protest
By Nigel Williams
June 21, 2003
Town Clerk, Beulah Williams and Clerk of Markets, Shulder Griffith are to work out arrangements for Water Street vendors to store their goods at the abandoned Stelling View Market during the nights.
Storage space had been a key demand for vendors who now have to move from the street each day by 6 pm.
According to Mayor Hamilton Green and Information Liaison to the President, Robert Persaud, the use of Stelling View was the recommendation made by Green and President Bharrat Jagdeo at a meeting yesterday.
Green told Stabroek News that the use of the market would only be a temporary measure and the vendors would still be required to find a place of their own to store their goods since the market was already earmarked for other uses. He said the vendors would have to arrange the cleaning of the market and take care of security. Green said that also coming out of the meeting was a clear understanding that the Council would continue enforcing the Appeal Court order for vendors to clear away their stalls by 6 pm.
Persaud said the President had agreed to help find a place for the vendors to do their business. He said the government was still looking at the plot of land on Water Street belonging to Toolsie Persaud Ltd. He said even though the matter was still in court the government had commenced developmental works on the land.
Meanwhile, a large group of Water Street vendors yesterday stopped selling to stage an all-day protest for better storage facilities for their goods in the night. The protest began shortly after 9 am and continued throughout the morning. The vendors piled up pieces of wood and blocked the junction at Robb and Water Streets and a section in front of NBIC. Some of the vendors, most of whom were women, sat on the pile of wood while a few men were seen fetching other pieces to help block the road. However, the police soon arrived on the scene and removed the debris. The policemen stayed around for a little while before leaving. When they left, a few more city constables pulled up on a canter truck and were observed keeping an eye on the vendors’ activities.
For most of the protest yesterday afternoon the vendors sat on the pavement and discussed possible strategies they could adopt.
Many called for an urgent meeting with the President who they contended was responsible for them still being on the street.
Their main concern was the lack of a suitable place to store their goods in the night. Ever since the Mayor and City Council began enforcing the Appeal Court order for the vendors to remove from the street at 6 pm each day, vendors have been complaining about storage facilities. Some of them had told this newspaper that they were living out of town and as such it was very difficult for them to be transporting their goods to and from their homes every day.
One vendor yesterday told + that she used to store her goods in front of Gandhi’s on Water Street but the council recently warned the management of the store not to allow this. Shawn Semple said he lived on the East Coast and before the Council had enforced the order he used to sleep in his stall. The man said he now had to pack up his goods every day and pay for them to be transported somewhere else.
Speaking to this newspaper one of the vendors who organised the protest said they were forced to take such action because no one seemed to be listening to them. According to the woman, since the court order took effect business on the street had suffered considerably.
“Look, sometimes we come out here and leave without making a dollar and now that we have to close up at 6 pm makes things even harder.”