Preparations for CWC…
City Council sparks furor as vendors removed from Stabroek Market Square
- Corbin calls action improper

Kaieteur News
February 20, 2007

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The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown, yesterday, took a final step to remove dozens of vendors who have been operating on the Stabroek Market Square for several years, as efforts intensified to spruce up the city in anticipation of Cricket World Cup (CWC).

As part of the ongoing effort to improve the Stabroek Market surroundings, the roads are also being repaired. Vendors say that they were initially asked to remove to allow workers to conduct repairs.

However, by midday yesterday, it became increasingly clear that the move was a permanent one.

Several of the vendors sell fresh fruits, clothes, hats and other accessories, in addition to those with mini-food stands.

However, only those who had established permanent structures were seen selling, but they also related that the Council had given them warning to remove.

By late yesterday, some vendors had returned and were seen selling fresh fruits on the pave.

Some complained that they were unaware of the decision to relocate, which caused the council to seize their stalls when they attempted to set up.

“They tell us to pay $7,000 to get back our stalls: We ain't even sell nothing yet…These people unreasonable,” a vendor shouted.

Opposition Leader Robert Corbin and other members of the People's National Congress Reform-One Guyana (PNCR-1G) called on the City Council to rethink their plan, since it was improper to issue a one-week warning when some of the vendors had been there for over 30 years.

Following a tour of the area, Corbin told Kaieteur News that the move could aggravate vendors.

He pointed to structures that have been set-up for several years, including those shared with the K&VC restaurant.

“They knew World Cup was coming a long time and they built a Stadium… the same way they could have properly planned for the relocation of these vendors. But to now come and tell them to remove is highly improper,” Corbin stated.

Town Clerk Beulah Williams said that the move was necessary if the Stabroek Market was going to be a main tourist attraction. She pointed to the need to clean surrounding drains, upgrade the road networks in the area, and ease the congestion around the city's main market.

Some of the vendors expressed displeasure at the move, stating that they had spent thousands to beautify their stalls and surroundings in keeping with the general effort to make Georgetown more attractive for the over 25,000 visitors that are expected during CWC.

Irate vendors related that they wanted to be at a vantage point to sell their products during the mega-event, and said that their presence around the Stabroek Market added to the market feel.

“Every country has its own things which are unconventional but which makes them unique. Visitors like to come here to shop their hats, drink coconut water. We are prepared to beautify and clean up, and we have done so. Why this now? Some of us have been out here for over 30 years. Is like we own land out here,” one vendor related.

However, the Town Clerk explained that an ultimatum had been issued for the vendors to be removed, since their presence created an eyesore for the area, particularly being in the general area of one of Guyana's most prestigious structures.

“The time has come when they have to be moved so we can now improve this area as part of our efforts to improve the city. We are going to have thousands of visitors coming, and we want to ensure that the city looks good to receive them. The Stabroek Market will be one of the attractions… we know. So we want to ensure that tourists leave with beautiful memories of the city,” Williams stated.

She added that the removal of the vendors was on the table for some time, and citizens have been pleading for the council to improve their surroundings.

Williams stated that the vendors could now visit the Clerk of Markets, where arrangements will be put in place for them to be accommodated at the Toolsie Persaud location on Water Street.

City Hall is now planning to embark on painting structures and placing signs in the vicinity of the Stabroek Market.

Sources stated that businesses in the immediate surroundings will also be invited to assist by ensuring that their buildings and surroundings are attractive.

According to a source, those vending just outside the market will also be targeted for removal, and several men who are often seen loitering at the entrance of the market will also be told to remove.