Another confrontation between urban vendors and the Georgetown City Council may well be brewing as the municipality prepares to take action to clear up at least some of the vending congestion outside Stabroek Market.
The municipality is scheduled to formally open the Stelling View Mall south of the Central Fire Station at the end of July and the sixty-odd vendors who have been identified for re-location to the Mall are far from happy. They consider the move to pose a potential threat to the viability of their respective enterprises given the fact that other vendors will remain on the busy Stabroek Market thoroughfare, giving them priority access to customers.
Official moves to clear up the vending congestion outside Stabroek Market accelerated earlier this year following a grenade explosion in which one man was killed.
However, the move to re-site the vendors, many of whom are single mothers who have been plying their trade outside the market for more than ten years was initiated more than a year and a half ago. “More than a year and a half ago when we agreed to move there under the condition that when it was time for us to move they [Mayor and City Council] would move all other vendors from outside the Stabroek Market whether or not they had a spot at the mall,” one vendor, who requested anonymity, told Stabroek Business on Wednesday.
The woman who vends shoes among other merchandise explained that about two years ago when the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) announced that vendors would be relocated she was among about 60 persons who applied for a spot in the Stelling View Mall.
After the application process was completed and spots allotted the vendors started to build their stalls, many of which are now nearing completion.
“We were given no help from anyone to build the structures at StellingView everything we had to work hard, hard for and build on we own,” the woman said. “But now that is near time to move in there we are not so sure if we can trust the word we were given before we decided to build.”
While the vendors who agreed to re-locate to the Mall prepare to do so, more than a hundred others remain on Water street just outside the market.
“The bottom line is this. When we move to the back of Stelling View we will not have the same access to customers and the other vendors who would be allowed to stay at the hot spot. If they remain we will stay too.”
Stabroek Business spoke with half a dozen other vendors who raised the same concern. They said that they were informed of the move earlier this week by M&CC and were told to attend a meeting today over which City Mayor Hamilton Green is expected to preside.
While Stabroek Business was unable to secure a comment from the Mayor an announcement from the municipality’s Public Relations Officer Royston King earlier this week that the mall will be opened on July 30.
“We will wait to hear what they tell we at this meeting and if we na satified then we going to take action,” another vendor, who also declined to have their name published, said.