Pavements are constructed for pedestrians, and vendors must accept this
By Eileen Cox
June 29, 2003
The issue of vending on Water Street and its pavements has reached the headlines again. It is an on-going problem that has not been resolved because of the failure of the City Council to take firm action.
In 1993 the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry appointed a committee to deal with the problem of pavement vendors and mandated the committee to co-opt such persons to serve, who might assist in the discharge of its functions. Mr Vibert Parvatan was chairman of that committee and the Guyana Consumers Association was invited to nominate a member to sit on it.
The committee submitted recommendations, but one has not seen any action taken along the lines recommended. Indeed, the situation has worsened with vendors completely taking over certain pavements and obstructing the passage of pedestrians. The very wide pavement between Fogarty’s and Guyana Stores has been taken over by vendors and persons are compelled to walk on the road when moving from one store to the other.
The city council inspectors evidently do not traverse that area nor the area in the vicinity of KFC. Nothing is done. If vendors are complaining now about the 6:00 pm curfew it is their own fault. They have built structures in the hope that they will be permanently situated on these pavements.
It is a pity that the President and the Mayor of Georgetown in considering the `plight’ of vendors have not sought the views of the business community and the consumers’ organisations.
One of the recommendations was that vendors should expose their wares on trays that were movable. Persons selling watches use small trays and there is no daily problem of packing, unpacking and storage.
The city council should stipulate the size of trays to be used by hucksters and give them spots that do not obstruct pedestrians. By changing the articles on sale day by day the vendors would attract customers.
Another recommendation was a flea market. On Sundays the Water Street area is free and vendors could arrange to take as many pieces as they desired and use means of attracting customers.
Vendors who wish to establish boutiques could team together and set up these boutiques in rented buildings. They should not be allowed to have clothes displayed in such a way as to block the vision of motorists.
In the course of its deliberations, the Parvatan Committee sought to find out from business places the effect of pavement vendors on businesses during the Christmas Season 1992. Six stores advised that they were affected by:
Same goods on display
Parking area congested
Poor sanitary conditions
Area being damaged
JP Santos in Water street was one of the stores facing closure because of the operations of pavement vendors who completely blocked the entrance to the store. The company has had to close this venue.
Do we consider the plight of the workers whose employment was terminated? True enough, some vendors are attempting to make a living, but do they have to make Water street unsightly?
We need to re-store the beauty of the street as one of the attractions to tourists. Decisive action is needed with consideration being given to all angles of the problem and a note taken that some of the vendors have more than one outlet and may be quite prosperous.
The 6:00 pm curfew is cited as a major problem. But this should pose a problem only to those who have sought to construct permanent structures.
At the Fogarty site, vendors were seen each evening dismantling what temporary structures they had and removing them before the store closed at 18:00 hours.
What was disconcerting to consumers was the application of the curfew to fruit vendors by the Stabroek Market. Many consumers were in the habit of visiting the area in the late evening to purchase fruit. The vendors in this area do not impede the passage of pedestrians and mini-buses. The closing time should be extended to 2000 or 2100 hours (8:00 or 9:00 pm).
To attempt to solve this problem without an input from business places and consumers is unacceptable.
It is an attempt to make legitimate what is illegal. Pavements are constructed to facilitate pedestrians. They should be maintained in that way and vendors must accept this fact and seek to run their businesses in a manner that does not impede the use of pavements by others and does not interfere with the operations of established firms.