Vendors who are expected to take up stalls at the rehabilitated Kitty Market are calling on the Mayor and City Council to reconsider a proposed rate of $20,000 per month for the rental of stalls along the exterior of the building.
At last week Monday’s statutory meeting, Town Clerk Royston King said they are moving ahead with the rate structure, which would see vendors paying approximately $20,000 per month per stall.
The vendors, who have been occupying spots along the parapets surrounding the market, are expected to begin occupying the stalls within two weeks.
Vendors told Stabroek News during a visit by this newspaper that they feel the price is too exorbitant and while they understand the facility is brand new, it will be difficult for them to pay the fee.
One vendor, who asked not to be named, explained that commercial activities within the market environment is “not like it used to be ten years ago. People don’t come and shop here in bulk. If they forget something or need something quick, they would come and buy…this is like a convenience market now.”
The woman added that on numerous occasions they suffer losses due to the few shoppers who patronize them. “It is your loyal customers would come and look for you… we buy goods and some sell and some throw away… business is not the same anymore,” she lamented.
Another female vendor echoed her sentiment, while noting that they would spend many hours a day waiting for just one sale.
“Sometimes we are out here waiting for business to pick up which is till around six to seven in the night, when people are going home from work.”
“It is very hard for us to find the amount of money they are asking for… we are paying a $1,000 a month per stall and now and they are thinking to raise to $20,000. I don’t know where we are going to find that money from,” the woman stressed.
Another vendor, who sells fruit and vegetables, said he too was against the sharp rise in the rental fee. He noted that the stalls are not as large as they are accustomed to and apart from paying for the rental, they will be required to pay a security fee, garbage collection fee and for electricity.
“When you check it up it is like close to $30,000 per month. We don’t see it as being profitable at all,” he pointed out.
“It is not like we are selling gold to pay this amount of money. It is a new market and we understand that but the fee could be reduce to fit our pockets,” the vendor added.
PPP/C Councillor Khame Sharma had called for a reduction of the fee on behalf of the stall holder and suggested that they be subsidised. In response to this suggestion, King told the council that the fee was fixed based on the operational cost of the market and if a calculation was done, it would show that they are “covering the operational cost at the very least.”
“We have to cover our operational cost. They are going to use council space and would have to pay the increase because it is a new facility. The money collected goes back into the city. We will not be able to manage if we don’t recover the cost,” he stressed.
The entire restoration project caters for over 100 stalls, with the largest measuring 12 feet by 8 feet. Of the 100 stalls, 15 are external stalls.
The entire ground floor of the market is still to be competed.