Wholesale vendors protest 'early' removal from market
- rules being applied, says clerk of markets
Stabroek News
January 28, 2007

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The wholesale vendors' trucks parked outside Freedom House on Robb Street yesterday morning(Photo by Aubrey Crawford)

Wholesale vendors operating behind Stabroek Market staged a protest yesterday which culminated at Freedom House over what they claimed was the city constabulary's unfair decision to remove them an hour before the arranged time. However, a city official said that the constabulary was simply applying the rules.

A delegation headed by farmers requested an audience with an official at Freedom House shortly after being asked to remove from the market at 7 am. The request was granted and according to what one farmer said, attempts were made to contact Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud.

The vendors told Stabroek News they would usually do business at the market every morning until 8 am but had been asked to leave an hour earlier by the city constabulary. They said the period between 7 and 8 am was the busiest since that is when more people turned up at the market to shop.

A 7 am departure from the market would be bad for business, one farmer said, and the arrangement they had with the city constabulary allowed them to sell until 8 am. Others joined in with him in condemning the decision for an early removal.

Contacted on the issue, Clerk of Markets Schuler Griffith said there had never been any arrangement for the vendors to remain until 8 am since the rules stipulated that they exit by 7 am.
Wholesale vendors protesting the city's decision to remove them from the Stabroek Market at 7 am outside Freedom House in Robb Street yesterday. The vendors want to be allowed to sell until 8 am and Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud is said to have m

"We are not being unfair to them at all. We allow them to come and on many occasions they have stayed on until 9 am, and this is where the problem lies because the market has to be cleaned and they usually interfere with this process," Griffith said.

He said greater emphasis was being placed on the markets being cleaned so the city constabulary had an obligation to see that the wholesalers left when they were supposed to and not hours later.

Griffith said the city constabulary was also enforcing the 7 am removal time to protect vendors selling inside the market. He explained that after the wholesalers did business with the market vendors they stayed on to sell to customers, and this affected the amount of business the market vendors could do. According to him, many vendors had complained to the city constabulary asking them to bring an end to this.

He said a committee of farmers had recently been formed to address the issue of the wholesalers at the market, and the city constabulary was working along with that group. To date, Griffith said, they had made progress in a few areas but were hoping to do more over the next month.

So far the committee of farmers had made numerous proposals including having the wholesale vendors leave on time. According to Griffith, the proposals were being implemented and the city constabulary would continue to meet with the committee to solve whatever problems arose at the market.

Meanwhile in a press release issued yesterday the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud as supporting the farmers' bid to have the period of vending in front of Stabroek Market extended from 12 midnight to 8 am.

GINA said that Persaud through the Ministry of Local Government had made representation to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to look into the request to allow farmers to sell for an extra hour until 8 am. The agency went on to say that the farmers had approached Minister Persaud on the issue and that in the company of Minister of Local Government Kellawan Lall and Minister of Transport Robeson Benn he had visited Stabroek Market on January 20 and had met with the farmers. The release said that the mayor, his deputy and other city council officials had been present at the meeting and the latter had undertaken to deal with the issue.

Yesterday many of the vendors showed Stabroek News their trucks loaded with produce which they had been unable to sell. They maintained that 7 am was too early for them to leave, adding that it would mean less business for them.

One man said when they stayed on after 7 am the city constabulary demanded that they pay an additional fee which they did without making any complaints.

But Griffith told Stabroek News that the fees being referred to were actually the removal fee the vendors were asked to pay if the city constabulary had cause to remove them. He said it was usually costly to remove them.