Clearing of Stabroek Market Square …
Vendors granted injunction against City Hall
- to return after Town Clerk motion defeated
February 21, 2007
Vendors who were evicted from the Stabroek Market Square on Monday are expected to return today, despite continued debates on the issue.
This newspaper understands that during an emergency meeting yesterday, Town Clerk Beulah Williams brought forth a motion to have the vendors removed. This motion was unanimously defeated, thus paving the way for the return of the vendors.
Reports are that Monday's eviction was instigated solely by Williams and instituted without the knowledge of Council.
During yesterday's meeting, Councillors contended that Williams had no right to institute the act against the vendors.
And yesterday, four of the vendors, in retaliation, moved to the High Court to secure an injunction preventing the City Council from proceeding to have them removed permanently.
The injunction was filed by attorney-at-law Gregory Gaskin on behalf of Gillian Holland, Anthony Dundas, Aubrey Marshall and Satya Anand Singh.
It was granted by Justice Winston Patterson during a hearing held in Chambers.
The vendors are seeking an order nisi directed at Town Clerk Beulah Williams and City Engineer Beverley Johnson, of the Mayor and Councillors of the City of Georgetown .
They had received written notices, dated February 13 and signed by the City Engineer, to remove all encumbrances within seven days of service.
The motion seeks to quash the decision made by Johnson to have the structures south of the Stabroek Market Car Park dismantled.
According to the motion, the applicants operate shops as a means of their livelihood, and they contend that the decision was unfair, unreasonable, arbitrary, and contrary to the right of the vendors to earn a living.
Court documents state that the decision to have the vendors removed is in breach of the rules of natural justice, is null and void, and is of no legal effect.
Gaskin claims that the dismantling exercise should cease until such time as a negotiation is arranged to offer a suitable alternative site to the applicants.
Holland operates a shop called Central Park Beer Garden, Dundas operates a food stall under the name Cook-up Shop, Marshall operates the Touch of Class Beer Garden, while Singh and his cousin, Lakraj Kumar, manage the Luxury Cut Barber Shop and Trafalgar Square.
The four businesses combine to provide employment for 22 persons.
Gaskin is arguing that the businesses have been in existence from as far back as 1982.
“…These businesses can, on no account, be classified as an eyesore, as falsely alleged by the Town Clerk,” court documents state.
They add that though no effort should be spared to enhance the environment, Guyana is a relatively poor country recovering from economic decline and stagnation. “Any attempt to hide this fact is nothing but a sham and false pride,” the writ added.
Gaskin mentioned that the vendors had drawn up a plan to enhance their structures, in keeping with the City Beautification Exercise, but did not receive positive responses from City Council.
Details of the writ indicate that the said City Council had given the vendors permission to erect structures on the square referred to as Stabroek Memorial Square .
Williams and Johnson have until March 5 to file an affidavit in answer for hearing in Bail Court .
Meanwhile, Leader of the People's National Congress, Robert Corbin, in a desperate attempt to lend support to the vendors, proceeded to raise the issue in Parliament.
Regarding the eviction as “unreasonable” and “unconscionable,” Mr Corbin disclosed that “inquiries have so far revealed that the instructions to the Town Constabulary to remove these vendors may have come from the government, acting through the Minister of Works, Mr Robeson Benn.”
In his argument, the Opposition Leader noted that such precipitate action is not only unprincipled but also appears to be in breach of natural justice.
He added, too, that since the pretext for the eviction is the Cricket World Cup, it is quite possible that a large scale national exercise may soon commence disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of citizens in the process.
“…I propose to call the Minister of Works to provide ample explanation of this development, and call on the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development to ensure that decisions of the City Council are respected and not arbitrarily changed without consultations,” Corbin said.