The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) is hoping to spearhead an inter-agency initiative to remove vagrants from the pavements surrounding the markets soon, on the grounds that they pose a public health risk.
Mayor Patricia Chase-Green indicated that following the council’s statutory meeting on Monday, the city administration would write to the relevant agencies, inviting them to discuss how the issue can be best tackled.
In the interim, however, she suggested that the Council focus on removing those persons that have congregated around the Stabroek Market.
“It is a social problem. We cannot encourage them in numbers around our market,” she said, while noting that there is food on sale in these areas, and children also frequent the space.
Councillor Ivelaw Henry raised the issue of the presence of these groups during Monday’s meeting.
“I have an issue in Bourda… on the pavement, between Orange Walk and Bourda, between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm, we cannot walk on the pavement simply because social rejects is down there. Lie down there, eat there, defecate there, smell up the place there…and our constables are doing nothing about it,” Henry related.
The councillor suggested that the M&CC develop a policy to address the matter, while recommending that vagrants not be allowed to sit on the pavement between the hours of 6 am and 6 pm.
“…Simply because our visitors walk to the post office, foreign and local, and they need to have free access and we will look better. A simple policy decision that could be incurred in this house for the rest of the year,” he added.
Town Clerk Royston King, who later cautioned the Councillors against using the term “social rejects” and to instead perhaps refer to the vagrants as “destitute”—although the term had already been thrown around countless times by then—said that while he agreed that something must be done, a holistic approach needs to be taken. “…Otherwise, what we would be doing is removing them from one place in the city to another place in the city,” he stated. He added: “The city is looking ugly as a result of some of the activities of these people, particularly with respect to solid waste management, because they are ravaging receptacles when they are filled—private and public receptacles—and they are doing all sorts of things. In some places, people are fearful of walking in areas where they are located, and we really need as a council to do something. But the matter could not be left only to the competencies of the council, we need the other agencies on board so that we can take a holistic approach on this matter,” King said.
Chase-Green recommended that in the meantime the council can make provisions to deal with the matter temporarily as it has managed to do in the past, while noting that the presence of the homeless around the marketplace has also been a concern for vendors, who complain of the odour.
“We can sit and we can determine how we clean it up and how we put our constables there to prevent them from just congregating there… they’d have to find somewhere else while we meet with the other agencies to determine how we move forward in this whole thing,” Chase-Green suggested. “But our immediate response is how do we keep along the Stabroek Market clear? Especially if you go there now, they got no less than 15 of them lying, smoking, drinking, everything there. How can we do that?” she asked.