Vendors of the Stabroek Market Wharf who were expected to be relocated to Russell Square by the Mayor and City Council have indicated that they are still awaiting word on the move and complained of the council’s laid-back approach.
The vendors were expected to meet with the council’s administration to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) before they can proceed with the construction of stalls at the identified area.
Vendors on Friday lamented that it has been over a week since they have received information on the move.
“They were supposed to come back to us with the memorandum for us to sign since last week Friday but we na see them back,” a vendor said.
At last Monday’s statutory meeting, Acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe informed the council that the administration was still in the process of drafting the MoU and promised to have it completed by the end of the week.
On Friday, during a visit to the wharf, some stalls were closed and vendors confirmed that they were adhering to the cease and desist order. At the same time, those vendors were seeking places to vend.
The vendors under the wharf noted that since the barricades to the three entrances were erected business had declined tremendously.
“With this they crippled our business. We are hardly getting sales because people are not coming in like before,” said Jackie (only name given), a vendor.
She noted that many of the vendors who had their business in operation “are just doing this to pay our bills. It is the end of the month and we need to get our bills paid. We have commitments and our families still have to eat.”
Jackie bemoaned that if the council knew that they were not ready to relocate them, they should have held back on the cease and desist order.
“Right now we know the dangers but where can we go to sell? They didn’t give us place… they still have us here and we can’t start build our stands yet,” a frustrated Jackie said.
Another vendor, who asked not to be named, lamented similar concerns and pointed out that due to the area being cordoned off their stalls are at risk of being broken into. The man said his stall was broken into last weekend and items were stolen. He lost five gallons of casareep and six large bottles of honey.
“This situation is moving from bad to worse. They want us to move but yet we cannot move because they haven’t prepared the place yet for us. It is very hard for all the vendors selling under the wharf,” the vendor said.
At an emergency statutory meeting two Mondays ago, City councillors voted to allow vendors to be relocated from the Stabroek Market wharf to construct stalls at their own cost.
At that meeting, Stabroek News had reported that councillors agreed that in addition to the vendors being permitted to build their stalls to the specifications given by the Engineer’s Department, they will be granted a waiver on rental fees for a period of six weeks after construction.
The vendors will also be required to enter into a MoU which stipulates that the arrangement is temporary and that all structures constructed will be dismantled once they are allowed to return to the wharf.
The council has also agreed to erect lights and install sanitary facilities at the site.
The area for their relocation will accommodate 82 vendors, 66 of whom will be given priority to relocate as they retail produce that is considered perishable.
The stalls are expected to be 13 feet in height, 10 feet in length and 8 feet in width. A rough estimate provided by City Engineer Colvern Venture pegged the cost to construct the stalls at $400,000.
The council had moved to evict vendors from the hazardous environment in which they were vending after the roof began collapsing. Vendors had been required to cease operations on September 14th after a cease and desist notice was served due to the perilous state of the wharf.
“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,” Town Clerk Royston King had said at a press conference on September 15.
At the said press conference, held to explain the council’s move to cordon off the area, King reiterated that the actions taken were to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the stallholders.