CJ grants order for seizure of vending articles in front of Muneshwers Ltd

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George

Chief Justice Roxane George has granted an order for the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to seize the goods of vendors operating around the premises of Muneshwers Limited, as the proliferation of such acts was creating encumbrances around their Water, Commerce, and Longden Streets, Georgetown location.

The Chief Justice heard an application made by Muneshwers Limited on October 27, 2023, for an administrative order of mandamus compelling the Town Clerk of the City of Georgetown to remove persons leaving, placing, storing any cart, barrel, dustbin, boxes, and other articles upon the pavement and around the streets around their premises.

Appearing for the applicant were Attorneys KA Juman-Yassin, SC, and Teni Housty.

In their affidavit in support of the application, the business stated among facts that their property is managed by the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown under the Municipal and District Councils Act 28:01 and the Town Clerk is the person designated by the statute to sue and be sued on behalf of the city of Georgetown.

For over 15 years, Muneshwers claimed that there had been a proliferation of pavement vendors in the City of Georgetown and more so in front of their business and that several letters were sent to the Respondent, complaining about the occupation and or encumbrance of the pavements but to no avail.

The applicant in their application further pointed out among other facts that the encumbrance of the entrance to their store and pavement over the years had caused the persons and customers who traverse the pavement to be greatly inconvenienced as at most times the vendors occupy most of the pavement and now part of the street. There was and continues to be a loss of revenue as a result since customers avoided the store since the blockage of the street and pavements instilled the fear of being robbed.

As a result of the loss of business, they were forced to lay off several employees, and the congestion attracted pickpocketing and robbing of customers and members of the public. On occasions, the applicant contended that the congestion was used as a cover to sell illegal substances such as cocaine and marijuana.

Further, they contended that pedestrians found it difficult to access the pavements to their property without having to pass through the varying articles.

The applicant claimed that the Mayor and City Council have completely disregarded their statutory responsibility and have allowed the proliferation of the encumbering of the pavements and streets around the building.

Muneshwers sought for the Town Clerk and the Mayor and City Council to perform their statutory duty under the laws of Guyana. The applicant further stated in their application that there were no reasonable circumstances why the Orders prayed for should not be granted and if granted, it would ensure a state of order in the city and it would be for the public good and citizens.

The Chief Justice, after listening to submissions by Counsel for the applicant, ordered that mandamus is being directed to the City Engineer to carry out the duty stated in the By-Laws 10 (2) for the enforcement of By-Laws 10 (1) of the City Government By-Laws enacted under the Municipal and District Councils Act Ch 28:01 in relation to the removal of anything whatsoever left, placed or stored such as to encumber the pavement or pavements and street situate around the said property.

The Chief Justice told the Town Clerk that in carrying out the order of the court, there should be strict compliance of the Act as that items seized should be itemised and stored properly. Further, if there was no claim by anyone within the stipulated period for any of the seized items, then they can be sold. The Chief Justice observed that the order made by the court may cause difficulties and advised that notice should be given to the vendors.