The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between George-town’s municipality and the vendors from the Stabroek Market wharf to concretise the terms of their temporary relocation has been further delayed and Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has lashed out at the administration’s slothfulness.
Chase-Green, who expressed concerns that the delay may result in the council being unable to approve the MoU before its term comes to an end, received an update on the progress of the relocation of the vendors from acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe on Monday.
Harry-Munroe informed the council that vendors are yet to peruse the drafted MoU and offer their comments. When that process is concluded, the document, inclusive of vendor feedback, is to be sent to the council’s attorney for the final draft to be tabled for approval at full council, she said.
Harry-Munroe related that the vendors were in the process of uplifting the draft MoU from her office.
This update did not sit well with the council and Mayor Chase-Green said she was disappointed by the administration’s “slothfulness in handling this matter that is priority.”
“At the last Market and Public Health Committee meeting, we made a decision that would have allowed us to approve the MoU at today’s (Monday) statutory. This has not happened. I am very disappointed in the way administration is handling this matter. The slothful way will not work,” a frustrated Chase-Green said.
She noted that at the Market and Public Health Committee meeting held last week, the decision was taken to allow the vendors to take a copy of the drafted MoU to go through it and decide if any changes need to be made before it is sent to the lawyer.
“We had already met with the vendors, I don’t know why we met with them again… now we will have to wait another ten days before this matter can return to council because I am sure that the lawyer will not drop everything and look [at] it and that will delay the construction of the stalls and the relocation of the vendors,” Chase-Green pointed out.
On this note, Harry Munroe announced that the vendors will have 48 hours to peruse and make comments on the draft MoU and it will then be sent to the lawyer.
The Mayor suggested that should the document be ready before the next statutory meeting, a special meeting will be called with councillors to approve the MoU.
Notwithstanding, councillors also lashed out at the administration for failing to follow through with council’s decision to have the comments from the vendors forwarded to the lawyer and returned at Monday’s meeting to be approved. They painted it a sign of disrespect and one which should not be tolerated.
Many, including the Mayor, were concerned that the council might not be in a position to approve the MoU, since it is unclear when the council’s life will expire.
“Local Government Elections [are] on November 12th. We are not sure when the life of this council will come to an end. We are certain about one more meeting before Local Government Elections and if we can’t approve it, then we might not be able to approve it,” the Mayor declared.
Chase-Green went on to say that the delay continues to be a hindrance to stall operators as they are willing to move but they are prevented from doing so as the document is not yet finalised.
“They are unable to earn a livelihood and Christmas is coming. This is a priority issue that needs to be dealt with… they are still operating on the wharf, which is not safe…,” said the Mayor.
In addition, Councillor Heston Bostwick, of the APNU+AFC, questioned why vending is still being allowed to take place on the wharf despite the cease and desist order issued.
He noted that penalties should be given to those who continue to operate on the wharf, however, it was pointed out during the discussion by an administrative officer that the vendors are operating at their own risk, since the facility is yet to be prepared by the council to make way for their relocation.
Following the collapse of a section of the Stabroek Wharf in July, the Mayor and City Council had informed vendors to cease and desist from operating under the dilapidated wharf.
The wharf has been slowly deteriorating over the years, and in 2017 it was announced that it would be rehabilitated. Sections of the roof collapsed in September, 2014, and March, 2015, but vendors have continued to ply their trade there despite the danger.