City Hall claims it has spent over $140 million to rehabilitate Kitty Market. It is two years since the accession of the APNU+AFC to government when the rehabilitation works began. To mark its Jubilee celebrations the billboard erected proudly acclaimed “A Dream Realized”. This historic symbol with its majestic clock remains part of our architectural treasure in the City of Georgetown. Today it is still in a derelict state.
As if this is not enough, with Phase 1 of the project still not completed by M&CC, a comprehensive work report is still to be presented to full City Council for notification of how the project unfolded. Following a visit by the Minister of Communities on Monday 8th January 2018, Mr Bulkan, together with his entourage, visited the project. Central government is now stepping in with a $25 million additional sum with the expectation of completing major works, and we hope this will allow vendors to once again be re-located to their rightful places.
In the meantime, many of the vendors are unsure of their future, as several promises made by Town Clerk Royston King to re-locate them have so far failed miserably. With bills to pay and children to send to school, these vendors continue to ply their trade on the roadside, while many vagrants occupy some of the stalls making the environment filthy and unhealthy.
In the meantime the fruits, vegetables and groceries offered for sale are kept in makeshift shacks on the roadside where the vendors continue to pay exorbitant rentals for stalls they no longer occupy and new stalls not yet provided by City Hall. Is this fair and just?
Representatives of the PPP/C visited the site last year 2017 to have a first-hand view of progress made in 2017. This team headed by Chief Whip and PPP Member of Parliament Gail Teixeira included City Councillor Bishram Kuppen.
Numerous deficiencies were observed and highlighted for corrective action. These included covering the old wood with mesh over which concrete was laid. Several reports followed about the wanton wastage of water from broken mains, the breaking down of the contractor’s guard hut at the Shell Road location, the unauthorized removal of material from the site, the huge payment for a rented toilet that was left unattended and locked, the large advertisement board lying on the roadside torn down accidentally by a garbage truck according to eye-witness reports, plus a live electrical cable dangling dangerously for the next couple of weeks. These reports made in the council chambers were deemed in some cases malicious, but after several months of consistent protest in the council an investigation was launched. Mayor Chase Green was appalled to learn of the several buckets of water the cleaner was forced to collect to clean the sanitary section, and she ordered this practice to be stopped immediately by fixing the toilet facilities.
This time, the PPP/C took to the picket lines at the Kitty Market Square on Saturday 13th January 2018 to protest the slothfulness of the M&CC in dealing with the plight of the vendors. Included were Central Committee member Mitra Devi Ali and Member of Parliament Bishop Juan Edghill, who took time off to give solidarity to the vendors in their struggle for better conditions to ply their trade.
Over thirty persons plus many vendors left their stalls to join the protest, many carrying slogans highlighting the high rentals for stalls not provided for, the atrocious sanitary conditions, and the uncertainty as to when the market will once again provide the valuable services to the residents of Kitty and its environs, it once provided. Several handbills were distributed to passers-by. While vendors highlighted the deplorable sanitary facilities it was observed that buckets of water are being used to flush toilets again in the sanitary block.
Now that the central government has taken over the project to rehabilitate the market, the M&CC now has the enviable role of oversight. The just demands of the vendors and residents must be met as we all work together to ‘Get… It Right’. The lives and livelihood of the vendors, their families and residents of Kitty and its environs matter.