Stabroek Bazaar vendors up in arms over temporary removal from main walkway

Stabroek Bazaar vendors up in arms over temporary removal from main walkway

By Svetlana Marshall

Vendors operating in the Stabroek Market Bazaar, who were asked to close their businesses temporarily and clear the walk-way following last week’s wharf collapse, are now up in arms over a decision by the Georgetown Mayor and City Council to have the middle section of the Bazaar remain clear until further notice.

A number of the vendors told News Source today that while they complied with the orders of the Municipality to close their businesses temporarily to facilitate the removal of the debris from the wharf collapse site, the situation has become unbearable, with many of them losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in perishables.

One vendor, Maria Bailey, said from the interception there was poor communication on the part of the Municipality.

“We were expecting that when the Council went to the back there and they would have assessed the situation, they would have seen what happened and at least, they would have come and have a word with the stall holder. They never did. Since last week Thursday, we were unable to sell. Today, we had to go over to the Council and that is how we were able to have this gate open, open up and sell. I am saying it was a lack of communication between the Council and the stallholders. They didn’t care anything about us. They just feel that they can come and do as they like, and that’s it,” Bailey said.

Bailey said while the stallholders within the Bazaar are now being permitted to sell, those who vend in the middle section of the Bazaar have not been given clearance to do so.

“The Council has given persons permission to sell in the middle of the road, now that this situation arise, the problem that we are having is that these people had to move their things from off of the road, some are not stallholders, they have nowhere to put their things. So, I don’t know how the Council is going to deal with this situation,” she said.

Another stallholder, Terrence Clement, explained that while he owns a stall in the Bazaar, he usually sells in the middle section to beef up sales, given the location of his stall.

“My stall is at the back of the market…A lot of stallholders selling on this road because their stalls are at the back of the market. Now, we come to occupy the middle because we have a stall rent to pay. Now the front stalls, on the left and right, they are going their business, now people don’t go at the back. For me, if I come in the market, I wouldn’t go at the back there and buy, and seeing everything in front here. So, what we do, we come out here to get a daily bread,” Clement said.

He said while vendors willingly cleared the area to remove the debris from the collapsed wharf, it is unfair for the Council to tell them that they would not be able to sell until further notice.

“Wednesday gone, we get a sudden thing. Well, we understand so we move off and thing but you ain’t telling we nothing. We are stallholders too, we pay revenue every afternoon, plus pay a stand rent. We pay more money than even the front stand owners. Is nuff stall owners deh out here because this business is a competitive business,” Clement said.

Ann Castello, who has been vending in the area since she was a child, said she had no other choice but to sell in the middle of the Bazaar to earn a dollar.

“I am down inside of a crack whereas I can’t do no business. I got to come out in the middle to receive a daily bread. Last Wednesday, I wasn’t here but I received a phone call that the wharf at the back that it is broken down and the people in the middle here, that we all have to move off. We cooperate. Now all of the stuff finish moving from at the back there, and the Council give the people in the front permission to tell, but we in the middle, we don’t know how we stand presently now,” Castello complained bitterly.

Unlike the others, Sharon Dundas, told News Source she has no stall in the Bazaar but was permitted to sell in the middle section of the road, however, since the collapse of the wharf, she has been unable to sell.

“Afte the wharf broke down they told us that we have to move. And they say to take the goods that you have, because I don’t have a stand, to put it in a corner, and from Friday morning, you could sell from 7 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and afternoon time, the van operator come in and go out but since you come off, you get no access to come back, this is it. All the goods still in the corner there. Now, they are saying only the stallholders could operate and we have to wait until further notice,” Dundas said.

Over at the Kitty Market, where the Mayor and Councillors met for a statutory meeting this afternoon, the issue was raised by the Mayor, Alfred Mentore.

Mentore told the Council that much to his surprise, he received reports this morning that vendors were not being permitted to sell in the Bazaar, when he had instructed that they be allowed to sell there from 7am to 3pm daily, until the wharf is cleared. 

However, the Town Clerk, Candace Nelson explained that it cannot be business as usual in the Bazaar until the wharf is completely dismantled and cleared.

“Works were primarily going to be done at nights, so that arrangement that we had would have been quite easy to execute, however, works are being done through the day, into the night. So, we have to have access to that area and because the rubbles were still in the Bazaar we couldn’t open as per normal. I met with a few of the vendors while I was there and I explained that to them. I said I cannot open for you to sell when we have danger lying right here because if anything happens to you, then the council would be blamed but as soon as we can clear that area, I would allow the stallholders to come in and sell,” Nelson explained.

It was explained that once the debris has been completely removed, stallholders will be allowed to sell during their usual hours, however, the road must remain clear.

City Engineer, Colvern Venture told the Council that the majority of the vendors occupying the middle of the bazaar have stalls.

The issue with regards to vending in the middle of the Bazaar has been referred to the Market Committee for a report. However, it was agreed by the Council that the City’s Administration would be given one week to clear the area and complete the removal of the debris, before vending by stallholders returns to normalcy.

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