Bourda vendors protest to reclaim spots outside former Bedford building

- accuse city of breaking promise

Half a dozen of the vendors who were relocated to facilitate the demolition of the Bedford Methodist building yesterday staged a protest in front of City Hall, where they accused Town Clerk Royston King of failing to honour promises made to them.

In August, the vendors were removed from their spots along Bourda Street by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) despite their objections.

Activist Mark Benschop, who has been advocating for the vendors and who was part of the protest, told Stabroek News that King had verbally promised that the vendors would have been returned to their former spots before Christmas or by mid-November once the demolition was concluded.

 Bourda Street vendors protesting outside City Hall yesterday for the return of their vending spots and the removal of smelly garbage skips.
Bourda Street vendors protesting outside City Hall yesterday for the return of their vending spots and the removal of smelly garbage skips.

The vendors were told that they would be able to return to their spots and that the city will build new stalls for everyone affected by the demolition.

However, Benschop said, when asked to fulfil the promise, King claimed he had never made such a commitment, despite both audio and video recordings of him making promises of cleaning the area and having the vendors return to the area. “City Hall made a deal with these people and now they are questioning why City Hall would pull out of the deal. Why be deceitful?” Benschop asked.

“We were supposed to return there in six weeks, but six weeks has gone and now he [King] is saying that he does not remember saying that. How much time is a little time?” one vendor lamented.

The garbage skips now occupying the vendors’ former spots
The garbage skips now occupying the vendors’ former spots

Having taken the decision to reestablish themselves in the area around the now demolished building the vendors are also asking that two garbage skips which have been placed in the space they previously occupied be removed.

It was noted that apart from the constant overflow of garbage, the stench that emanates from the skips is hampering sales since persons are less inclined to stop and shop.

One vendor stated that while vendors are expected to pay a rental and cleaning fee, the City Council is not living up to its responsibilities when it comes to emptying the skips.

“We are paying $1,200 a day to sell in a rubbish bin,” the vendor said, while adding that the situation becomes significantly worse when it rains.

When contacted, King acknowledged that there have been delays as regards the efficient management of the skips but explained that it is as a result of the magnitude of work that is being done around the city.

King said council is trying its best to speed up the process to provide quality service to the citizens of Georgetown. Additionally, he assured this newspaper that the skips will be emptied within the next 48 hours.

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