Grove/Diamond vendors still in limbo over market tarmac
Almost three years ago, contracts were signed by Government for the establishment of market tarmacs in rural communities mainly to allow safe vending and provide space for those who were literally fighting to make a living.
One such area is the Diamond/ Grove New Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara (EBD), where thousands of residents live.
Earlier last year, vendors did not have enough space in the old market square at Grove and as such relocated to the roadways on the Diamond public road and Diamond New Scheme access road.
This eventually became a threat to free and safe flow of traffic which resulted in an intervention by the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development.
They proposed to institute a new market in the Diamond/ Grove New Scheme where vendors would be comfortable and benefit from a spacious and secure vending environment.
On November 20, 2009, contractor Khemraj Nauth inked a $24.5 M contract with the Ministry to establish a 4,600 square meter market tarmac located between the first and second bridges on the southern side of the scheme.
The project was scheduled to be completed at the end of three months. However, the time was extended to facilitate “final touches” on the market tarmac.
Though the tarmac has been established for over two years, vendors are yet to be placed there.
Meanwhile most of the vendors have been removed from the roadways and are unable to vend since they do not have a permanent or appropriate location to do so.
Some residents are calling it a “waste of taxpayers’ money,” since the empty land is serving no purpose.
In fact, the youths in the area would use the spot for recreational activities such as playing cricket, football and other sports.
Some even use the tarmac to set up tables and chairs to gamble during card and domino competitions.
One woman told this newspaper that she has moved her grocery stall near to the car park close to the Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) and is still awaiting instructions to vacate the market tarmac.
“Many of us had to move from the road side where business was good good and now plenty of my friends them can’t sell no more unless is by their house and they aren’t making money like before. We all have children to feed, send to school and we need to live. I still waiting to go to the tarmac which left like it haunted or something but truly Government need to do something good with it soon.”
While it is unclear when the tarmac will finally be utilized as it ought to be, stray cows and dogs are often found wandering and sleeping there.
One man opined that if the Government does not use the spot for its original purpose then it should be converted into another project or the land should be rented out.
“If they can’t use the place to put the people who selling like they said they would then they should rent or sell it out or something rather than have it there for people to do whatever. Other than holidays when music sets blasting off and people drinking rum there it is hardly used for anything.”