Almost thirty wholesale vendors were on Thursday afternoon arrested by City Constabulary officers and placed on station bail for allegedly attempting to ply their trade in the vicinity of Robb and Alexander Streets, Bourda, Georgetown.
At the scene today, the family members of the arrested merchants, who are also vendors, stood in their numbers and told media operatives that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is stifling their means of earning honest income.
“The Revenue [Officer] come collect the money. I already done pay to sell in the car. The constable them come now and seh no selling…A whole gang of them gone in inside. Wa you gon do with the load? We done pay to sell,” one of the merchants identified as “Natasha” told INews.
This online publication understands that the vendors were given permission from the M&CC to ply their trades along Robb Street, Bourda, for three hours, per day, with the cut off point for them at the location being 15:00hrs.
As such, they are ordered to pay between $1,000 to $1,500 daily.
“The three hour vary from when you come. That’s what City Hall tell we but the [Constabulary Officer] now come with different rules,” another irate vendor explained.
According to him, today, they were told that the three hours commenced from 07:00hrs- meaning their selling period would conclude at 10:00hrs.
However, the wholesale vendors complained that the logic behind the time set is severely flawed and hinders them from achieving their maximum sales, and leading to significant losses of vegetation.
“I come from till a Berbice and is eschallotte and celery we bringing down. The eschallote and celery can’t reach here fuh 7 o’clock. The only way it can reach is if we bring it a night before and we can’t do that because it gon spoil. Is perishable items we does sell,” a merchant explained.
Another vendor who identified herself as a single mother, was almost in tears as she explained that she is running out of options to provide a daily bread for her family.
“My kids going to school. I buy and sell load [vegetables]. I take greens from the farmers. You does bring the load and you does have to sell it [because] when you go home, farmers look forward for their money,” she said.
They recalled that Government had urged them to plant more and to invest in farming, however, according to the vendors, the advice is of no use if they’re being hindered constantly from selling their goods.
Meanwhile, at the Bourda Police Outpost, a large group of vendors were seen seated on the benches inside.
Moreover, the female constables were heard screaming and shouting at the relatives of the vendors who had been apprehended, ordering them to leave the Outpost.
Also witnessing this was City Councillor, Bishram Kuppen who expressed his belief that the vendor’s arrests seemed to be ethnically motivated.
“When we came here, apparently there were about 20 vendors that were arrested. They are all of one ethnic background. They’re all [East] Indian vendors. Now I’m wondering why there are only these [East] Indian people that are being arrested…The people are just trying to make a living here and I don’t understand why they’re hassling them…Some of these people cannot afford to pay bail and they’re crying inside there,” he said.
He also criticised the City Constabulary Officers for what he described as inappropriate behaviour.
When INews made contact with Town Clerk, Royston King, regarding the issue, the City Hall official said that he had not received an official report on the matter. However, he said that in prior instances, the M&CC had being experiencing some problems with the wholesale vendors who were attempting to extend their activities beyond the three hour limit.
“In so doing, they were influencing in a very negative way, the flow of business in our [nearby] markets. In particular, the Bourda Green area,” he explained.
King further noted that he has had several meetings with the vendors “and we had tried to persuade them to abide by the time given to them by the Clerk of Markets so that all of the vendors who are involved in making a living would be given an opportunity to do so.”
As such, he posited that action had to be taken to bring some order. (Ramona Luthi)