In the wake of protest action from vendors, who usually ply their trade on the section Merriman’s Mall where operations have been temporarily ceased, President David Granger has said that vendors must be provided with suitable spaces to operate but the City Council must also be able to enforce the City’s by-laws.
“The City Council has responsibilities. It has by-laws and regulations. I have been advised that the Town Clerk actually had meetings with the vendors. Warnings were actually given months ago,” the Ministry of the Presidency quoted him as telling a reporter during a recording of the television show, ‘The Public Interest’.
On this note, President Granger said it is understood that a change in location can affect their livelihoods and the City Council must put arrangements in place to ensure that those displaced are given accommodation at appropriate locations to ply their trade.
“…There is a large vending population in Georgetown and we must accept that. Some people prefer to buy from vendors, but vendors must conform to the laws. They must not leave debris and rubbish [scattered on the ground] and they must not go into prohibited areas. The City Council must provide areas for them and they must abide by the municipality regulations,” the President said.
Town Clerk Royston King said that City Council was forced to temporarily suspend vending in the section of Merriman’s Mall between Cummings Street and Orange Walk, since vendors were not adhering to waste disposal and other guidelines that had been communicated to them last November.
“We told them that their stalls should be made to a specific height, colour and size; that they should have appropriately covered receptacles to dispose of their garbage in an environmentally friendly way; that they should not drop their waste into the North Road or Church Street Canals; that they should not park their vehicles on that stretch…and the area should be left clean at the end of the day. That was not adhered to. And so out of an abundance of concern, we suspended vending so that we can clean the environment,” the Ministry of the Presidency quoted King as saying.
However, a temporary area on the Mall, between Cummings and Light Streets, was identified for them to operate, while the Council evaluates their operations to ensure that it falls in line with City by-laws. Meanwhile, the area that was temporarily suspended will be cleaned and based on the vendors’ adherence to guidelines, a decision will be made on whether they can return to that location.
What had been decades of hard work seemed to have been reduced to nothingness for vendors of the Merriman Mall, Bourda, Georgetown, who were on Wednesday morning stunned by the sudden move by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to have them remove from their place of business.
That move sparked much criticism and the angry mob took their cries to the gates of the Ministry of the Presidency.
The vendors gathered outside the President’s Shiv Chanderpaul Drive office and their irate rants became a sound warning to President David Granger, that if he did not step in to remedy the situation, then there might be trouble.
Close to 30 vendors, many of whom have been selling for close to 35 years at the Merriman Mall, complained that the M&CC was cheating them for no apparent reason.
The vendors said they turned up Wednesday morning, unaware that the Council had made the decision to move them.
The M&CC on Monday said that it was placing a temporary suspension on vending on the Mall between Orange Walk and Cummings Street, Bourda.
It said it observed that the area was untidy and not in keeping with the vision to keep the city clean.
But the Council has been at odds with these vendors for quite some time now. Back in October last year, members of the Council pounced upon them, destroying their stalls and items without any proper explanation or prior notice.
Later that same month, Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase Green had warned that if vendors did not comply with an order to become uniformed, they would lose out on the opportunity to continue.