Vreed-en-Hoop vendors, who were made to remove from along the stelling road to facilitate construction work, have refused to take up nearby spots that were identified for them.
The vendors told Stabroek News on Friday that they tried for a week to sell in the area in the stelling identified by Junior Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson but they saw few sales and some who sell fruits and vegetables reported that they suffered losses.
The vendors are hoping that they would be able to return to sell along the road during the upcoming Christmas season.
The Vreed-en-Hoop to Hydronie road is being upgraded at a cost of US$46.4 million and the project is expected to be completed by early next year.
A few of the vendors have since taken up spaces on a private property at the side of the road, which they have pooled their resources to rent. However, they said that they are still harassed by the police who patrol the roadway.
Doreen Balkarran said that seven of them were charged and they have to appear in court on October 30. “…This look like we can’t make a living… even if we push a cart to sell our vegetables, the police come and harass you and tell you that they get strict order from the minister… I don’t know how we gon’ make a living if we can’t get sales in there [the stelling],” she said.
Balkarran, who sells vegetables, claimed that when the vendors were initially removed from the road side, she lost $100,000 worth of produce because she was unable to sell.
Another related that not all the vendors have been able to ply their trade since they were removed from the roadside. “Nuff people don’t come out and sell because they don’t have a place to sell. I don’t know how long more we would be able to be like this… they put we in a place where we can’t get no sales,” said the vendor.
She went on to say that the Ministry of Public Infrastructure had promised to carry out corrective works on the stelling and relocate the landing in other to facilitate traffic in the stelling. “Where they put we is behind where the speed boat stop and the people them don’t come behind there to buy, they walk straight out of the stelling and we left at the back begging for a sale,” she pointed out.
Balkarran said that for the few days she sold inside the stelling, she made little over a $1,000. She too is asking that they be allowed to return to the side of the road for the Christmas season.
The vendors are also disappointed at the Minister Ferguson, who promised to return and check on them, had not.
Meanwhile, when Stabroek News visited the stelling, only two clothing vendors had occupied the spots that were identified by the minister. Carmen (only name given) said that she took up her spot two weeks ago and it has not been a profitable move. She noted that it is rare for new customers to approach, even though she sells at the front where passengers would disembark from the boats.
She noted that on some days, at least seven vendors show up to sell but after spending hours of waiting for sales they would pack up and leave.
Ferguson had said that the vendors were issued several notices informing them of the road works and the need for their removal.
“Before our government took office, they were told that they would be relocated to the Pouderoyen Tarmac but they didn’t want to go there and at the meeting I suggested a portion of the stelling,” she had explained.