Works Ministry moves to demolish stalls in Soesdyke
The Ministry of Public Works yesterday moved to demolish some stalls located on the Linden/Soesdyke Junction, but the efforts of the workmen were halted when the occupants of the stalls refused to move, saying that they were not on Government reserve.
The workers, who were without a police escort, could do nothing to force the stallholders to move. “If the people don’t move their things, we can’t do anything. They still have goods in their stalls, and there are only six of us (Ministry workers) and so many of them,” said one of the Public Works staffers.
He said that the stallholders said that they were not on reserve land, “but we have our orders.”
The workers had gone there with trucks and a bulldozer. After some time, they left without demolishing any of the stalls.
The stallholders said that, in the past, they were on the Government reserve, but had moved back from the reserve. They noted that they were also told to place their stalls on wheels, so that they could be mobile.
At present, the stallholders claim, they are occupying land belonging to Andrew Morgan. According to the stallholders, the man had given them permission to use his land.
However, Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, is adamant that those stalls occupy the Government reserve. “That entire section is all Government reserve,” said Benn, “and it represents a serious traffic problem.”
He said that trucks and other vehicles stop in the vicinity to purchase things from the stalls. The other stalls, after the turnoff to Linden, have been pushed back off the road, and they no longer pose a threat to road traffic, said the minister.
One of the stallholders, Patricia Beepat, said that in 2007, their stalls did occupy the Government’s land. “We are more than 50 feet from the middle of the road, and off of the Government land.”
She claims that the owner of the land had pulled his fences back some distance to allow for the creation of lawns, to make his place look better. This area, Beepat said, was the area that she and the other stallholders were occupying.
Similarly, one of the other stallholders said that her snackette was providing a service to the community by selling food at an affordable price.
She said that she could afford to move, but questioned what would happen to the other stallholders, the ones who cannot afford. “When poor people are pushed off of the land where they earn a living, it pushes people to crime,” she said, “and then the people in charge have the audacity to ask why there are so many criminals in this country.”
Meanwhile, the minister said that, over the next few days, his ministry would work on having the stallholders move their businesses.