Council, Stabroek Market vendors to meet today
…ongoing works halt injunction

Kaieteur News
February 22, 2007

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Officials from the Mayor and City Council and vendors are expected to meet today to find an amicable resolution to the problem that resulted from Monday's eviction of the vendors from the Stabroek Market Square .

Minister of Local Government, Kellawan Lall, said yesterday that the eviction of the vendors was part of a wider initiative undertaken by the government to restore the image of the capital city by changing attitudes and reversing effects that were caused by years of neglect.

Speaking at a press conference hosted at the Office of the President immediately following a Cabinet meeting, Lall debunked reports that the government was being selective in its approach.

This position was also shared by Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and Minister of Works and Hydraulics, Robeson Benn, all of whom provided an update to the administration's beautification plan for the city, and by extension the country.

Vendors continued to be blocked from setting up their stalls in the area, despite being armed with an injunction preventing their removal and the backing of the majority of Councillors, who voted for their return to the square.

Minister Benn explained that the vendors could not be allowed back since the road construction workers needed unhindered access to the road network in the area.

Stating the need to clear the area, Benn said that workers are faced with heavy delays caused by some vendors placing their stalls on the edges of the road, and warned of the danger posed by the asphalt which ranges from 150 degrees to 240 degrees Celsius.

He added that the Ministry has been trying for four weeks to get two whole days to take charge of the site to lay the asphalt.

Restating government's position on the vending issue, Lall said that the Stabroek Market area will be cleared.

“It is going to remain open and we are going to preserve that historical site and make it a major tourist attraction…That is our long-term plan. All buildings and all vendors are going to be removed.”

Lall said that arrangements are entrained for vendors to be given appropriate places to ply their trade and noted that in the short-term some vendors will be allowed to continue to sell under firm guidelines.

“We are not here to take away people's livelihood,” Lall said, adding that limited vending will be restricted to the day.

“Whatever buildings they have, they must be of a particularly type and standard, well-painted, marked with the person's name and what that person is vending, and it must be constructed in such a way that it is easily removable at any one point in time,” Lall said.

He added that there have been tremendous improvements, which now allow the beauty of the Stabroek Market to be displayed, but admitted that there is still more work to be done.

Lall noted that all Councils throughout the country have been instructed to apply the Municipal and District Council Act and the Local Government Act to their fullest.

“In the process we are going to have problems…Ultimately it is going to be for the good of the country and the health of the citizens.”

Following protest action, an emergency meeting was called on Tuesday at which Town Clerk Beulah Williams presented a motion to have the vendors removed, but it was unanimously defeated.

Some of the vendors invited into the meeting alleged that Monday's eviction was instigated solely by Williams and instituted without the knowledge of Council.

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 injunction 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.