City Mayor Ubraj Narine together with a number of street vendors clashed with the ranks of the Guyana Police Force over the Government’s decision to remove vendors from outside of the Georgetown Public Hospital in the vicinity of New Market Street.
Led by a senior police officer, the ranks attempted to clear the street as the Ministry of Public Works attempted to remove a number of mobile food carts and containers, but in protest, the City Mayor, together with vendors, sat on the ground, and at one time, they laid their bodies under a truck that was attempting to move a food caravan under police supervision.
The Public Works Ministry reportedly did not consult with the vendors or the Georgetown Mayor and City Council before arriving at its decision to remove the street vendors.
“Christmas time! Christmas time buddy! Them ain’t get a heart? People get family,” one vendor said as he sat on the road in protest, even as the entire ordeal was captured live on Facebook.
A concerned citizen, in expressing disgust over the government’s decision, compared the treatment meted out to vendors operating along New Market Treatment against the treatment given to vendors at Mon Repo.
“De people in Mon Repos bruk up deh thing because dey ain’t satisfied but look what they doing to we. Yall need to put up a resistance…this is the only way of life for these people, this is the only thing they known, this is the only thing they known,” the woman said.
The woman said the Government is creating a hostile environment. “Yall wake up!” she said, while noting that President Irfaan Ali must do more than meet and greet in communities dominated by Afro-Guyanese.
Describing it as “bullyism,” Mayor Ubraj Narine said the police were instructed by the Government to remove the vendors. “President Irfaan Ali should be ashamed of himself! Shame to do poor people these things. He don’t have a heart. He sleep in the State House. He and his family get everything up to date in the State House while these people suffering to make a living for their kids. President Ali should be ashamed for bullying these poor people,” Mayor Narine told the press as he stood in solidarity with the vendors.
He questioned how could President Ali could tell the International Community that he is a President for all Guyana, when poor people and Afro-Guyanese are being marginalized. “Then he will go and say he is not a racist president, he is more than a racist,” the Mayor alleged.
Mayor Narine said the Georgetown Municipality was never consulted on the matter.
The attempts to clear the New Market Street location followed “a final notice,” which was published on the Public Works Ministry Facebook page.
“A FINAL notice is hereby given to vendors who are occupying spaces along New Market Street, between Thomas and East Streets, to remove all erected makeshift stalls, sheds, carts, caravans, motor vehicles, and other receptacles used for vending,” the notice read.
According to the Ministry, the vendors are impeding the smooth flow of traffic in the vicinity of the Georgetown Public Hospital.
The Public Works Ministry said “Violation Notices” were previously served, giving the vendors seven (7) days to vacate the area. The seven-day period expired on Monday, December 12, 2022.
“Health and safety must be a priority for all Guyanese, we have to try harder and we have to be conscious of what is right practice and what is a wrong practice, there are times ambulances and other emergency vehicles will be trying to enter the gates at GPHC and from the vehicles parking indiscriminately, to these vending stalls taking up the parapets in its way, we cannot allow this to continue,” Minister Juan Edghill said in the statement.
He urged that there will be full compliance. However, the vendors are expected to continue their protest today.
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