Vendors outside 'Big Market' can sell until relocation - Lall By Heppilena Ferguson
Stabroek News
February 22, 2007

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Vendors outside the Stabroek Market would be allowed to vend there but only until arrangements are put in place for them to be relocated, according to Local Government Minister Kellawan Lall.

In the interim they would have to comply with stall and other regulations and be orderly at all times, the minister said. It was the latest development in a simmering row over who passed the decision to move them. Town Clerk Beulah Williams took the responsibility for this and some vendors later moved to court challenging the decision while Opposition Leader Robert Corbin raised the matter with the city and in Parliament.

Yesterday, Lall, Cabinet Sec-retary Dr. Roger Luncheon and Public Works Minister Robeson Benn called a press briefing at the Office of the President and presented official positions in terms of where stakeholders were with city beautification efforts in preparation for the Rio Summit and the CWC games.

Lall who spoke mostly on the vendors issue alluded, too, to a decision taken on Tuesday by acting Mayor Robert Williams and 17 councillors to have the vendors outside the Stabroek Market remain in the area, but said he would not deal with that since it was a matter for the council. However the minister insisted that the decision would be valid only in the short term.

"The Stabroek Market area is going to be cleared and it will remain open as part of the government's long term plan to make the Stabroek Market a heritage site and so all vending will have to stop there and buildings in close proximity will be removed," he said.

He said the council was tasked with ensuring that vendors understand this position but assured that arrangements would be put in place for them to be relocated.

The minister pointed out too that those vendors who would be there in the short term would be allowed to vend strictly during the day and they would have to ensure that their stalls are easily removable.

The minister said that he had no other motive than ensuring that there was compliance with the city by-laws and added that "all vending in breach of the city by-laws would have to be dealt with."

Cellular provider Digicel also has a booth outside of that soon-to-be "completely vendor prohibited" area, but Minister Lall said this matter has not yet been dealt with, since Digicel too would have to move or be removed if the laws were to be implemented and in keeping with "what goes for one should go for all."

"Though the vendors have been there for a long time, the area has got to be clean and for those vendors who have been there for longer periods than others, a solution would have to be worked out but at the end of it all the area has got to be cleared," Lall insisted.

Lall said he has since advised all councils and regional democratic councils countrywide that they are to comply with all the laws governing the operation of municipal and district councils to the fullest.

"We will have challenges but we call on everyone to appreciate our efforts and what we are doing," he urged.

Stabroek News spoke with vendors at the area yesterday who seemed a little more at ease and seemed hopeful that a resolution to the issue would soon come.

Pamela Anderson, a clothes vendor resorted to itinerant vending, determined to grab a sale or two. Many others were seen doing the same thing and determined to take home at least half a day's sales.

The area was barricaded from vehicular traffic and the presence of the police and the city constabulary was more than usual. Vending in the city has been a problem that has occupied the authorities over the last two decades or so.

City beautification

Cabinet Secretary Dr. Luncheon said that at Cabinet's meeting on Tuesday the enhancement programme received much attention and the whole drive was not only to impact on the country's hosting of the Rio summit or the CWC games.

He said particular focus was also aimed at re-invigorating an interest in clean and wholesome environments. To this end he said large sums were invested.

Lall noted that the efforts have already started bearing fruit. However he admitted that works are still to be conducted at markets and efforts to move derelict vehicles from the roadway were also moving apace.

Public Works Minister Benn said that lights have also been installed in several areas and lighting of the railway embankment is also ongoing.

Additionally the Georgetown enhancement committee has completed rehabilitation and lifting of the five main avenues in the city and Benn said works on the cemetery road avenue were ongoing.

To date the committee has already overseen the laying of conduits for traffic lights at 22 of the 50 intersections to receive state-of-the-art signals.

Regarding that part of Water Street in front Stabroek Market, Benn said works were ongoing but it took a while before the committee was able to take charge to get the road done, since many vendors were encroaching on the areas where work was being conducted.

"And as far as I am concerned that area is still a construction site and has not been handed over to the council and so vendors would not be able to return to the area until it is considered safe," Benn said.

However he noted that the committee was still deciding on the procedures with regards to the construction of signs. He alluded to a recent increase in a number of signs and noted that the owners would have to pay $500 per day per sign.