A massive clean-up campaign was yesterday rolled out by the Mayor and City Council at the Stabroek Market square.
The clean-up campaign comes days before the 50th independence celebrations and amidst a seething row with vendors who have been moved from the area.
The city council has decided to move vendors and taxi and minibus drivers from the market square to facilitate resurfacing, cleaning and reorganising of the bus and car parks and vending spots. City Hall said it intends to reshape not just the appearance but also the ambience of the area.
However, vendors plying their trade in the vicinity have rejected the proposal by the city council to be relocated for four months to a vacant lot south of the Public Buildings at Hadfield and Lombard streets, which previously housed a Royal Castle outlet. They say they will lose sales during this period and fear that they won’t be allowed to return to the Stabroek Market.
When Stabroek News visited yesterday just after the clean-up, the market square was near spotless. There was a clear view from the Route 42 `Timehri/Georgetown’ bus park straight over to the market building. Stabroek News noticed that drains were cleaned and bags of waste were waiting to be picked up from the site. It was also observed that barricades, which are less than five months old, were being removed from the 45 `Lamaha/Main Street’ bus park and placed into trucks to be taken away. The city had placed the barricades to create order for minibus operators and for a neater market front.
Yesterday, although a handful of the vendors came out to help clean amid the rain, they expressed their disappointment in the David Granger-led administration and the city for not working on a compromise with them.
Megan Lowe, a vendor who had turned out to clean, said to Stabroek News that while she is in agreement with the council cleaning up the area she is not in agreement with the move to the lot on Hadfield and Lombard streets which she said is “unfit for business”. The vendor argued that moving to the spot temporarily would be a bad business choice as few customers would go there.
One vendor who did not want to give her name, highlighted that the area selected is not ready for them to move in tomorrow. She further pointed out that the area is a den for crime-related activities. Additionally, a food vendor pointed out that on weekends “we would be reeling in money, especially how tomorrow (today) is a holiday… when we sell on weekends we would get money to send our children to school.”
Venting his frustration in a sarcastic tone, Cauous Peters, a vendor, said “this is the good life we moved for… now they win look what they are doing to us… we put them there. Let them enjoy this one term.” Adding to what he said, another vendor stated “dem better know they are a one term government…Jagdeo had said Granger was danger but we didn’t want to believe now we see.”
“On Thursday we saw President Granger and he said he is not aware of the situation and we should go back Friday but when we go back” he wasn’t there, a vendor injected.
Further, Peters added that when the “PPP was leading the country they were always supporting their supporters, they were always propping up the estate… we are not getting anything like that.”
During yesterday’s clean-up, Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and Town Clerk Royston King were at the Stabroek Square supervising.
On Friday, vendors had staged a protest outside of the Ministry of the Presidency in the hopes of securing a stay of the move but they did not receive an answer.
During the meeting on Thursday, King told the vendors that he was dissatisfied with the condition in which they have kept the market square. “Two days ago, I walked the Stabroek Square and I was very displeased with what is going on in that particular square. I saw people gambling, I saw people loitering, it had an obnoxious smell where apparently people have been using the area as their personal toilet… the entire Stabroek Square is completely disorganised,” King said.