Ejected Stabroek Square vendors protest at City Hall
• determined to return to preferred area
By Alex Wayne
Kaieteur News
February 21, 2007

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Security ranks at City Hall were forced to lock and secure the main entrances from disgruntled vendors who assembled, yesterday morning, outside the facility with the hope of retrieving property that was seized from them on Monday, as well as being given a definitive position on where they would be located.

Council recently embarked on a massive clean-up campaign in the Stabroek Market area to ready the city for Cricket World Cup, and vendors were reportedly ordered to remove their stalls, initially to facilitate repairs to the road and the cleaning of drains in the immediate environs.

The irate vendors related yesterday that, on Saturday last, they were asked by the City Council not to sell on Sunday because of imminent road works.

They added that when they attempted to set up their stalls after the exercise, their structures were seized and some destroyed by the authorities.

Town Clerk Beulah Williams retorted that the vendors were given at least one week's notice to vacate the area, but the vendors claimed that this was not the case.

They said that the Council had never notified them of its intention to remove them permanently from the Stabroek Market area. They said that they were led to believe the move was a temporary arrangement.

Yesterday, as vendors raucously demanded to speak with the Town Clerk or Mayor Hamilton Green, they were informed by City Constabulary ranks manning the location that the Chief Citizen was in a lengthy meeting, while the Town Clerk was unavailable.

Such utterances further infuriated the vendors, some of whom exploded into obscenities and threats of violence; several even threatened bloodshed and gunshots.

There was, however, a small group of women who tearfully called on the Name of the Creator, for a positive turn to the situation.

“Advantage, advantage”, some wailed as they held onto the gates of the premises, while others gesticulated and shouted angrily into the faces of security and other City Council officials.

While a few vendors left the location after receiving no presumed favourable response, others remained, claiming they were waiting on PNCR Leader Robert Corbin who, they said, had promised to visit them at the location yesterday morning.

Some vendors lamented that they were also told that the machine used to repair the road had encountered a technical malfunction which had halted the road repairs, forcing them to remain at home with goods, some of which are deemed perishable.

The Town Clerk has since related that the vendors can now visit the Clerk of Markets and make arrangements to occupy spots in the Toolsie Persaud location on Water Street , but the vendors are arguing that by the time the normally lengthy process is executed, they would have lost major sales and a sizeable inflow of income.

Many lamented that they have borrowed money to invest in their trade and are required to make weekly payments to their lenders. They are arguing that with the halt in their business they would never be able to meet their targets, pay their dues, or feed their families.

Yesterday, too, a few of the vendors contended that they felt the Council's move was unfair since they complied with all the rules set down by the entity and paid all monies required of them whenever asked to.

While many of the vendors complained that they have occupied the spots for years and felt they ‘almost owned the area', Town Clerk Beulah Williams said that, in keeping with the Council's drive to beautify and clean up the city, it is compulsory that the vendors be relocated.

• The Town Clerk emphasised that Stabroek Market is highlighted as one of the main tourist attractions, and that members of the public have been pleading with the Council continuously to clean up the area.