The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) yesterday moved to restrict access to sections of the dilapidated Stabroek Market Wharf, leaving scores of vendors displaced as Town Clerk Royston King said a lack of funds has delayed the completion of works at the site identified for their relocation.
Stallholders were served with a notice on August 30th advising them to cease operations at the wharf within two weeks in order to facilitate repairs to the structure. King told a news conference yesterday that the council took action to limit activities of vendors and their customers at the wharf by cordoning off sections. He added that the entire wharf would be closed to the public within the next week but noted that completion of the site to accommodate the vendors could take up to a month.
As a result, when council workers put up barricades at entrances to the wharf yesterday, many of the vendors voiced their anger at the fact that the M&CC had not fulfilled its promise to relocate them.
“We had meetings and so with the Town Clerk and they gave we the notice but they said they would put things in place for us. We have goods in we stall and we have nowhere to put it. If they find somewhere and say, ‘Hay you gon’ work,’ we will remove,” an angry vendor said.
The woman further lamented that she and others only received a fresh batch of fruit, vegetables and other items on Wednesday. “We get goods up to yesterday (Wednesday). Why he (King) didn’t stop the boat since last week… everybody collect goods yesterday! Wah you gon do with de goods?” she asked.
Another woman noted the plans to relocate them to Russell Square, west of the Public Buildings, from where Route 42 bus operators had been removed in order to accommodate the relocation.
“Now, nobody has a problem with moving because that was already discussed in the meeting but the point is put the adequate infrastructure in place so that the people can relocate so as to conduct their business, so as to earn a livelihood. This is where the whole problem is—just find a relocation spot, pass the word, give it on to the people and let the people go and relocate,” a fruit vendor added.
The man, who asked not to be named, stated that no official came to the wharf to tell them about their relocation. “Well nobody didn’t come and give us no final word as to where we are gonna go and relocate. They just came and start to bar off the place,” he said.
“We got to move. Alright, we agree with duh. But them ain’t telling you where you relocating, that’s the problem. If they say, ‘well look, you go hay and she go deh,’ we good, we gon go and build we thing we self. They block hay. Now how we gon sell we goods? I got a set of load in my stall. Fresh, ripe produce,” a vendor whose stall was filled with freshly delivered fruits said.
One woman, who operates a sewing business with two workers, expressed her
dissatisfaction with the council’s actions, while saying she was concerned how her staff members, who are single parents, would make out as customers were being blocked from entering the wharf. “All we fighting for is for them to give we somewhere. They barricade by the 42 bus park and now they refuse to give we there. He (King) keep meeting for the past three years and on to now we ain’t get no place, just promises, promises,” she said.
After the officials had cordoned off sections of the market, the M&CC hosted a press conference at City Hall, where King reiterated that the actions taken were to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the stallholders.
It was noted that the actions taken are intended to protect stallholders from any accident that may occur due to the deterioration of the wharf, sections of which have collapsed in recent years.
King acknowledged that the council has not yet completed some preparatory works on a reserve west of Public Buildings, which it has barricaded to relocate the vendors. “Preparation and allied arrangements to relocate them are taking time and substantial resources, which are not now within the coffers of the council. Hence there has been, financially, a slight setback to our fulfilling the original timeline of one month to relocate those vendors. The council needs another three to four weeks to complete preparation of that area,” he said.
It was also noted that the City Constabulary, with assistance from the Guyana Police Force, will be monitoring the situation at the wharf.