City targets illegal East R’veldt vending, Mandela Ave squatters

The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has announced that 24 hours’ notice will be given to East Ruimveldt Market vendors and persons squatting along Mandela Avenue to desist from illegal activities, though vendors in that area said they had been told nothing of the sort.

According to a press statement issued by the M&CC on Thursday, as the city’s sanitation and management programmes continue, a 24-hour ultimatum has been given to the vendors and squatters, who are breaching the city’s rules and regulations.

The statement explained that persons who are illegally occupying public spaces on the western side of Mandela Avenue with makeshift structures and East Ruimveldt market vendors who have constructed illegal structures that are taking up extra space are asked to stop and remove the constructions.

It added that on Thursday, the M&CC had noticed the extensions of vendors’ operating spaces. It quoted Town Clerk Royston King as saying, “The council is concerned about vendors illegally increasing selling points, virtually repeating what is being restricted in the city centre.” The statement further explained that King said that several notices have been served on the vendors but they continue to illegally expand.

It further said that notice was also given to persons squatting along Mandela Avenue who have constructed shacks and stored items on their properties. “The council has noticed that there are plans to utilise the facility and thus offered 24 hours for persons to remove their items and relinquish the city’s property. A 24 hour timeframe was also given to vendors to remove their illegal structures ahead of the council’s visit to the location,” the statement added.

However, when Stabroek News visited the East Ruimveldt Market, Mandela Avenue and vendors around the vicinity, all of them said they were unaware of anything of the sort happening, and while the vendors in the market had a meeting on Thursday, such discussions did not come up. One vendor on Mandela Avenue related that he had heard the news in the morning and had gathered several other vendors and gone to City Hall. He told Stabroek News that when he arrived there he was relieved to find that he was not affected. “Well we [group of vendors] were ready to go and file an injunction, even though it seems like nobody ain’t listening to the law and listening to them things but we glad is not we,” the man explained.

While they have supposedly been given 24 hours, Stabroek News was unable to confirm when the 24 hours starts and ends.

The statement added that while the city is in a transition phase, the council reiterated calls for the cooperation of all stakeholders and emphasised that all citizens should be able to enjoy and access the city’s facilities, which resulted in the ongoing exercise that includes the relocation of roadside vendors.

“While the law is clear on what is and what is not permitted in and on public spaces, the council is adamant about mechanisms to ease the transition process of vendors. Though this is not an obligation of the council and requires separate financing… the well-being of the city depends on the well-being of citizens,” the statement added, quoting King as saying, “All Guyanese deserve to have a city equal to the best in the world.”

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