The Mayor and City Council yesterday began relocating stalls from the Bourda Street carriageway to the western pavement in order to facilitate road repairs, which may result in vendors suspending their operations for a few weeks.
“Vendors have agreed that during the period they would not work because we had initially proposed to them that we were going to close off a portion of Regent Street from Orange Walk to Bourda Street and allow them to operate and they’ve agreed that instead of doing that, they prefer to close up until we’re finished with the road,” Town Clerk Royston King related on site yesterday.
King added that if vendors are still desirous of plying their trade during the period the repairs will be done, they have been given permission to vend on a portion of the Merriman Mall.
The repairs to Bourda Street will be facilitated by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, and are expected to take two to three weeks, or less, King stated yesterday.
During the time that the road is being repaired, vendors will not be required to pay rates to the council, but once the road upgrades are complete, and security, lights, water and other amenities are installed, fees will be increased.
“As per agreement, we are preparing to do this portion of Bourda Street. Vendors have agreed to co-operate and to remove their stalls; shift it back a little bit onto the pavement on the western side of this road and that is exactly what is happening here this afternoon. We’re very pleased with the co-operation we’ve been receiving from all the vendors in this section and as you know, we must do the road as part of our responsibility as the city government and so we’re pushing ahead to get the road done. We wanna do it before the rains for the festive season and also, to give the vendors a chance to come back into operation before the festive season so they can at least do business during that period,” the Town Clerk related.
Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had advised King at last week’s statutory meeting to “put systems in place” for all markets before the Christmas season begins.
King, then, had also announced that the Bourda Street vendors had agreed to suspend operations to facilitate the repairs, and said they were to meet later that day to sign an agreement. Yesterday, it was related that approximately 85% of the vendors have signed on so far, and the others are expected to as well.
When President of the Guyana Market Vendors Union, Eon Andrews arrived on the scene yesterday, he expressed scepticism at the excerise, as he related he was unsure which agency had been contracted to do the road works. He said too that he had been told by vendors that the stalls had to be broken down, which proved not to be the case.
The exercise began around 1 pm yesterday, and workmen contracted by the council were seen manually lifting and shifting the stalls onto the parapets. The force, however, resulted in the wood from some of the stalls, which were visibly aged, coming loose, and having to be hammered back together by the workmen.
K.F.M Jawanza was one of the vendors who had signed an agreement put together by the council, in support of the roadworks.
Jawanza related that he had thought a forklift would be provided to aid in the movement of the stalls, rather than them being moved manually, as the stalls would be damaged in the process.
Responding to a question about the reconstruction of stalls for uniformity as was announced by the council, King said that a prototype would be created, and vendors would be required to find their own materials, as has always been the protocol.
“We don’t want this portion of the city to look like a shanty town, and that is why we want to have a standard prototype…that would allow this particular area to not only attract Guyanese but also to attract foreigners and people who are coming to tour this part of the world,” he stated.
On the note of city aesthetics, King added that the council would be moving to “reshape the landscape and aesthetics of the Merriman Mall” by constructing kiosks, which are expected to boost business in the location.
King said that materials are already on site for the construction, which could begin within two weeks and move into the new year.
“Give us a few more weeks and you will see how different that particular area will be. You will see the difference in the landscape, the difference in the aesthetics, and they will be able to do much more business as we move again to upgrade that particular part of the city as well. We do not want Georgetown to look like a shanty town, we must move into modernity, we must change, we must move Georgetown up to a level comparable with all the great cities of the world,” he stated.