… no notice was ever given – vendors
Several vendors who operate at the Merriman Mall were left in a state of shock, as they arrived on Thursday morning to find their stalls, located between Cummings Street and North Road completely destroyed.
The dismantling operation, which reportedly occurred on Wednesday evening at approximately 22:30h (long after the vendors had finished working for the day), was carried out by a team of City Constables led by Town Clerk Royston King.
The vendors, who were all adamant that no notice was given to them prior to the dismantling exercise, denounced the clandestine nature of the operation. They questioned their next move, as for many, this was their only source of income.
“No one came with a formal notice to us,” one vendor, who was identified as Abby, lamented. “(They took) us off of the streets, bringing us here and then giving us empty promises that they are going to build, eventually.”
“Now they are saying that we are not maintaining the spots but we were maintaining our areas. If it was a case where the place is being looked after they could have told us and put persons in spots that are not being looked after.”
Abby denounced the actions of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), describing it as a“deception”. She explained that she just came and met her dismantled stall on the road.
George Adolph, another vendor, claimed that contrary to what Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had said in a televised interview on Wednesday, no notice was given for them to move.
“Last night nobody ain’t know what going on. I listened the news and I heard her saying she gave us a month’s notice. Nobody here ain’t got any notice. I am appealing to the President to come and look into this situation,” the man related.
According to Adolph, they were told that the Council could not build anything before the Jubilee as the time was too short. He claimed that they were promised a more permanent structure afterwards. The vendor questioned the manner in which self-employed persons, who are already struggling to make a living, are being treated by the municipal Council, which they helped to elect.
He said, “It appears as though these people bullying poor people. And in any country poor people are the electorate. Before these people become Mayor and Town Clerk, these people come out on the road and tell us we know where to put our X.”
“They give us all assurances that they will help us. And this is what they turn out to (be). After we finish vote and they get what they want, they turn their back on us,” he said. “The people in this country ain’t got rights. They bringing foreign people who benefiting more than us.”
President of the Guyana Vendors Union (GVU) and former M&CC Councillor Eon Andrews, was on hand to weigh in on the issue. He called for a sit down with the authorities in order to reach an amicable solution.
“We would like to have discussions on the way forward, as it relates to vending,” he said. “To prevent these kinds of embarrassments and draconian attitudes, (so it) does not occur.When they had the crisis in town they just dumped them here, so as to ease the pressure on them. A lot of things about this spot is not really conducive to this kind of business. So if you are going to bring people here, you must put proper infrastructure so that they can operate,” Andrews said.
He questioned where the vendors would go now. The GVU President also echoed the sentiments of other vendors who pointed out that, with the sluggish performance of the economy, adding more persons to the breadline would be detrimental.
“The President (Granger) is speaking about self-employment. They are trying to be employed. All they need is a bit of help from City Council. That’s why if they could sit with us, where they could sit on one side of the table and (us on the other, this can be resolved),” Andrews stated.
Several of the irate vendors brandished receipts showing that their payments each week to City Council were up to date. One single parent of three children was rendered speechless at the sight of her wrecked stall.
When questioned on Thursday, Town Clerk Royston King confirmed that the operation occurred on Wednesday night. However, he emphasised that the decision was taken because of the unsanitary conditions of the Merriman Mall strip.