Barbers and cosmetologists, who once plied their trade on the pavements of America, Longden, Regent and Croal streets, have been relocated to the Merriman Mall, between Cummings and Light streets, for three months.
They were granted temporary permission to relocate to the site to ply their trade subsequent to a meeting with the Town Clerk Royston King.
In a statement issued on Monday by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC), King was quoted as saying “everyone has to earn a living but at the same time it must be done within the confines of the Law.” King reiterated that the Council is not trying to move anyone from the hub of economic activities, but the city is very congested, hence their relocation.
The section on the Merriman Mall for the beauticians would be equipped with light, water, refuse collection and security services.
When Stabroek News visited the mall on Monday, water, washroom facilities and security were already in place. The operators were waiting for lights to be installed.
They told Stabroek News that they are comfortable with the location but bemoaned the fact that business was moving slower than expected. George Douglas, a barber, said he is looking to make the best of the temporary arrangement until the end of the three-month period.
He explained the new facility is spacious and comfortable and there is no traffic obstruction. He said over the weekend they managed to attract customers and they are hoping that the business would pick up in the days to come.
“Big George” (only name given) said it was a good move to operate on the strip and he was optimistic that as the word gets around they would be able to attract customers. He said they are mandated to clean up their working area every afternoon before they go home. However, he expressed concerns about their relocation after the three-month period expires.
The cosmetologists who are also operating at the location, also said business is moving at a slow pace. While some found it comfortable, others found the new environment uncomfortable because of the poor business. “You can’t think about comfort and you have rent to pay and have to get food to eat… when we were on the pavements, we were making money even though we had to keep looking out for the constables. We were willing to take that risk,” Shevon Bristol said as she waited patiently for a customer.
Natasha Braithwaite, a nail technician, said it was her first day and she, like a few others, waited for customers.
She said some of her customers complained of the distance they had to travel after receiving word of her new location.
She added that when they were out in the streets, it was more feasible for them as they were able to lure customers who had no intentions of having their hair or nails done.
The barbers and cosmetologists who operated over the weekend said business was good. They explained that it was not as busy as they are accustomed to but they are thankful for the business they had over the weekend.
They will have to work under the strict supervision of the Public Health Inspectors and the City Constabulary Department, according to the M&CC statement.
King said that before the barbers can commence operations they must be registered with the M&CC. The registration process includes a medical examination by the Council’s Medical Officer, who will provide a medical certificate to the applicant deeming the applicant fit to carry out such an operation.
Additionally, in a separate statement the Mayor and City Council urged citizens to visit the newly created business hubs in the city.
King urged citizens to visit the vendors. He said that, “all must work for the better of the city and that means helping out each other.”
He said in the statement that moves were done to aid with the city’s reorganisation and beautification programme.
The M&CC has faced criticism in recent weeks for failing to properly accommodate vendors who it forced to relocate from around the Stabroek Market Square area. Some have been relocated to a spot at Lombard and Hadfield streets, while others have been relocated to the Merriman Mall.