Barbers who operate around the city bus parks and the Stabroek Market area were yesterday ordered to immediately cease operations or face prosecution, but the men are calling this move “irrational” and “vindictive”.
“How can we move from here when we have nowhere else to go and have been hustling for over 15 years without any problems? We have families to feed…seems the council want us to go and thief …and seh watch dem thieving when they coulda be earning an honest daily bread,” said one of the barbers who asked to be called only ‘Barber boy’.
He said that sometime back he gave his real name to someone whom he felt was doing a news article and was shocked to receive a summons the next day from the court with the name he gave citing him for illegal barbering. He was resolute that he would never make the same mistake again.
Nine barbers occupy the area alongside the Kitty/ Campbellville bus park and the area in front of the Satro store. Some had their furniture demolished yesterday while others quickly packed up their tools and left.
Recounting the demolition incident the men said that it was around 9:00am as they were preparing for work that they saw members of the city constabulary and the ministry of health circling the area.
Suspecting that something untoward was about to happen, some of the men packed up and left while others waited to see what would occur. They said it was then the council workers came and told them that they had to leave immediately while Ministry of Health officials informed them that they were in breach of health regulations since they were operating without a barber’s licence.
However the men are upset that the Ministry of Health personnel would use licensing as the grounds for their removal because it was that ministry which is still to issue their respective licences since they have already undergone all the necessary health checks and tests needed for clearance.
“Why they must fight we down like this, asking ‘bout licence when every time we do tests they say they can’t because we don’t have the facility to operate …you ain’t see is stupidness they get we on wasting money on HIV tests, urine test, stool test, this test, that test schuppppssss,” said another barber as he stood facing the demolished area.
He reasoned that he should not be moved since he had been operating at the location for over 15 years and always kept copies of his health tests pasted on the wall and the area he worked in immaculately clean.
He said “Roadside barbering has been with us from time immemorial. Long ago there were no air conditioned rooms for the ordinary man to go, only people with money could have done that. Today we still cater for those persons and people who prefer de fresh air…besides pass here any day and you will see the area” clean.
The man added that the council does not pay for the upkeep of the area since the group pools monies to pay “junkies” to clean the drain and sweep and disinfect the ground.
John, another barber, told Stabroek News that he was newly married and needs barbering to sustain his wife and baby. He said he did not have a large enough clientele to meet the high rental demands of city barbershops while the location was convenient for many, especially women who “always busy and just to stop quick and shape up deh brows and moving again.”
In addition he said his rates were far lower than barbershops, while there were also special rates for children and senior citizens at their shops.
The men are pleading with the authorities to allow them to continue their trade since they also serve as security for passengers of the nearby bus park. They noted also that they have all the sterilization mechanisms in place and leave the area before 6:00pm in the evening and they clean and maintain the area without any financial help from the state.