Evicted Robb Street vendors mulls legal action against M&CC

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*  millions lost in spoilt perishables

One day after they were evicted without notice, cash crop vendors plying their trade on Robb Street, Georgetown – between Alexander and Bourda Streets – will return to the vending area as of today, following a meeting yesterday with Town Clerk Royston King.

Evicted vendors on Tuesday afternoon

Evicted vendors on Tuesday afternoon

King, however, threatened the vendors that should they fail to keep the area clean; a permanent ban will be imposed.

“In other words, there would be no going back, you have to keep the place clean,” King warned as he explained that it was the vendor’s failure to maintain the sanitation of the area that led to the eviction.

However, the vendors said that their garbage compactor, which City Hall had in the vicinity, was removed by the municipality. With no place to dump the garbage, the vendors said after cleaning the area, they are forced to pile the garbage in one location with the hope that the Council will remove it.

SANITATION FEE

Further, they questioned King’s claims, arguing that shortly after the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) took office in May 2015, they were told by City Constables that they have to pool money to help clean-up the city and ever since they are required to either pay $1,000 monthly as sanitation fee to clean the area or assist with the cleaning, which they said they have been adhering to.

“When the new Government go in power last year, they tell we that we have to donate money to clean the city up and me and the people them who selling deh put together and give them forty something thousand dollars… we give one constable and she tek it inside the constabulary,” one vendor stated in the local ‘creole’ dialect, adding that they continue to pay the $1000 monthly.

When questioned if receipts are issued, the vendor answered in the negative, stating that, “them constables does come round with a book and does write down we name and the money we give them, they add (it) up and take it to the constab.”

However, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Councillor on the City Council, Bishram Kuppen, said he was alarmed at this revelation, since the revenue department of the M&CC is the only body authorised to collect monies on behalf of the Council and for all revenues collected, a receipt must be issued.

PROTEST

Meanwhile, the vendors protested at the Communities Ministry in Kingston, Georgetown, with placards bearing slogans such as, “Royston King must go” and “we need justice”.

In their chants, the protesters expressed complete dissatisfaction at the actions of the Town Clerk. “Weh we gon go? How we gon mek a living? This injustice got to stop!” one vendor asserted.

However, King was unmoved, stating that not even the GMVU could influence a decision made by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to stop vending.

LEGAL ACTION

The merchants, many of whom travelled from as far as Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), have complained about millions in losses over the past two days due to spoilage of their produce and are seeking legal advice on a possible lawsuit against the M&CC to recover the revenue they lost.

They are contending that the municipality failed to give them any notice of the eviction and therefore is responsible for their loss.

“We lose a lot because of the Council, so yes we are going to take legal action because we still have to pay the farmers. We have family, I have children to send to school and I live in a renting house… they didn’t tell we in advance that we can’t sell,” one retail vendor stated.

Another man stated that he is fed up with the way City Hall treats vendors and is also backing his colleagues with any legal challenge.

“They must take responsibility and pay for we goods which spoil. Royston King like he doesn’t like vendors, so he punishing we all the time; first Stabroek, now here. We gon sue them. Somebody gotta pay for our goods, look how we lose money and them don’t care, none of them,” another irate woman lamented.

Meanwhile, a group of the affected vendors met with a delegation from the Leader of the Opposition’s Office to voice their frustration about the removal, among other issues.

“The Office of the Leader of the Opposition notes that once again the Mayor and Town Clerk are taking bread out of peoples’ mouths, creating greater hardships and increasing the cost of living for all the citizens, not only in Georgetown, but across the country,” a statement from the Opposition Leader’s Office said.

Speaking with this publication after the meeting, one vendor said while President David Granger is on record urging persons to become entrepreneurs, because of his Government’s inability to provide jobs for the thousands of unemployed persons, City Hall, controlled by Granger’s APNU/AFC coalition, is trying to destroy small businesses, referring to City Hall’s eviction.

“I saw the President on TV talking about we should become our own entrepreneurs, but on the other hand, look at what they are doing here to us. If we can’t sell and make an honest living, then our only options are to go hungry, thief or beg,” the man stated.

(Edward Layne/Guyana Times)

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