City Hall to pay $1M to GPL for electrification of New Vendors Mall
They were assured by City Mayor Hamilton Green that they would be able to access affordable electrical supply from the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), but even after five months and the official opening of the New Vendors Mall, ‘the occupants are still awaiting a transformer to facilitate the process.
The vendors recently disclosed that while business has improved in the recently overhauled facility, they are concerned that the lack of electricity could prove to be a disadvantage to their operations.
In fact, this predicament becomes evident according to Dawn Harris, the owner of Stall 92. Harris while attempting to get a sale from two curious customers related to this newspaper that she believes that in order for her boutique to thrive, the need for electricity is compulsory. “We applied to GPL, had my stall wired and everything and they said that they will get back to us. This is about five months ago,” Harris lamented.
She did not hesitate to emphasise the massive transformation of the Mall, but Denise Kellman, another vendor, is appealing to the relevant authorities to ensure that the electricity service is provided urgently.
According to her, she is hoping that action will be taken before the Christmas season when customers’ demands are known to increase considerably.
“If you notice now, the place getting dark earlier because it coming down to year end…” Kellman related that despite the Mall is a more attractive shopping venue which is secured by City Constables, without the availability of lights customers will not be inclined to indulge in late shopping there.
Both Sonia Johnson, of Stall 91, and Wonda Jones, of Stall 86 shared similar sentiments with this newspaper even as they offered their version on the reason for the delay in the provision of electricity.
They related that although vendors had applied for the GPL service and completed all of the necessary pre-requisites, the failure on the part the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown to provide a transformer has prevented the electrification process.
However, Williams in an invited comment yesterday, disclosed that the provision of the transformer is currently being finalised between the municipality and the power company through an agreement. The agreement document he said has already engaged the municipality’s attention and should have received the signature of the Acting Town Clerk, Mrs Yonette Pluck-Cort, and forwarded to the power company since Friday.
Based on the agreement, he divulged that the municipality will be obligated to pay a sum of $1M to GPL before the transformer is actually made available to allow the vendors to receive their supply of electricity.
But finding the requisite finance may not be an easy task according to Williams, who said that he expressed optimism that the municipality will be able to garner funds in time to facilitate last shopping for Christmas time.
At the recent commissioning of the Mall, Mayor Green had disclosed that vendors will become eligible for reduced electricity and water rate, with the latter service being optimal in its availability.
The original vendors’ mall, according to Clerk of Markets, Schulder Griffith, consisted of structures that were poorly built with old zinc sheets and plywood. This coupled with the fact that proper preparation of the land was not done also resulted in poor drainage among other problems.
The facility was and still is intended to help address the problem of roadside vending in the city.
But due to the condition of the facility, Griffith had said that some vendors opted to give up their stalls while others returned to the pavement leaving just about 30 percent occupancy at the site. But it was in preparation for Cricket World Cup in 2007, a group of prominent citizens started the Downtown Enhancement Committee chaired by Mr Chris Fernandes in collaboration with representatives from the council, worked tirelessly on a plan aimed at enhancing the new vendors’ mall.
But as the need for enhancement of the stall became more evident, the council, through its public health and markets committee chaired by Deputy Mayor Robert Williams, mandated that new designs for the stalls be created.
It was after several consultations with the new Vendors’ Mall Committee, that a new design was derived. It was put to plan by the Engineers’ Department.
“The new design displays large stalls and wider passages which allow for more customer- friendly shopping, less congestion and a display of a wider variety of goods and service. These include the provision of grocery stalls, salons and barber shop, internet cafes, haberdashery, boutiques, cafeterias, variety stalls and soon to open a printing service and pharmacy.”
Griffith said that the Mall which accommodates 184 stallholders now sports a common eating area where shoppers can relax in comfort.
Construction of all stalls, he said, was undertaken by vendors themselves, a feat which according to reports may have cost about $100M. The construction process was done under the guidance of the City Engineer’s Department and was monitored and supervised by Deputy Clerk of Markets, Mr Errol Brisport.