The approval of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by councillors of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) now paves the way for vendors from the Stabroek Market wharf to commence construction of their stalls at Russell Square.
At an extra-ordinary statutory meeting called yesterday to address the delay, a majority of the councillors present voted in favour of the MoU.
The voting saw 12 APNU+AFC councillors voting in favour of the much delayed MoU, which highlights the terms and agreement of operations between the vendors and the M&CC. PPP/C Councillor Khame Sharma voted against the MoU and his colleague, Bishram Kuppen, abstained from the vote.
At yesterday’s meeting, acting Town Clerk Sharon Harry-Munroe, announced that a meeting was held with the vendors and they were able to peruse the document before they signaled their agreement.
This was just days after the council’s statutory meeting, where Mayor Patricia Chase-Green lashed out at the administration’s slothfulness in dealing with the matter. The council had made a decision to have the document returned to council on Monday for approval. However, the final document was not drafted and vendors were still to scrutinise the document.
Yesterday, before councillors approved the document, which concretises the terms of the vendors’ temporary relocation, some praised the council for getting the document ready in a timely manner.
Deputy Mayor Akeem Peter, in his address, queried the timeline for the completion of the construction of the stalls while, Councillor Heston Bostwick suggested the document include the measurements of the stalls and the types of materials it should be constructed with. “It is stated here that the vendors are doing their own stalls but it does not state the size and the type of materials that should be used. I think that should be inserted here,” said Bostwick.
Responding to their concerns, Harry-Munroe informed that vendors will be required to begin and complete constructing their stalls within six weeks from the time of signing the MoU and noted that the suggestions will be added.
Chairperson of the Markets and Public Health Committee Tricia Richards said that she was happy administration worked in a timely and efficient manner to have the document approved. She explained that many consultations were done with the vendors and related that at the final one, clarifications were offered to the vendors.
“The vendors are in agreement with this document before us and I have no problem in supporting it. We have met with the vendors and heard their concerns. We have clarified it and made the changes in this document before us,” Richards said.
The Mayor also acknowledged the consultations in her address, before putting the MoU up for a vote. “No vendor can say they were not properly informed. We have held meetings with them back and forth and now we are ready to have them sign this MoU. We have done the consultations,” she announced, as she responded to councillors James Samuel and Sharma’s concerns of limited consultations having been held.
Sharma questioned the fast-forwarding of procedures by the city administration.
“Last Monday, we asked about this and it was not ready, how can it be ready so soon? It seems as if this council is being run in a ‘who cares’ manner…”
Responding to the concerns, Chase-Green said, “I will not allow you to derail this council’s progress… You are always here to be disruptive and disrespectful in this council… you bring a negative energy here…”
After much deliberations, Bostwick moved a motion for the 13 councillors gathered to vote on it. The motion was seconded by Councillor Winston Harding and then voted on.
Subsequent to approving the MoU, Chase-Green declared that despite the poor turnout of councillors, the approval is legal and binding. She noted that one-third of the majority is needed to make a decision and the council had the quorum to do so.
At a special meeting recently, the council had approved for vendors being relocated from the Stabroek Market wharf to construct stalls at their own cost.
The MoU stipulates that the arrangement is temporary and that all structures constructed will be dismantled once vendors are allowed to return to the wharf. It also states that vendors are permitted to build their stalls to the specifications given by the Engineer’s Department and will be granted a waiver on rental fees for a period of six weeks after construction.
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.
Following the collapse of a section of the Stabroek wharf in July, the M&CC 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.