Almost one year ago, Government signed contracts to establish market tarmacs in rural areas, for various reasons such as to alleviate the burden of vendors who were literally “fighting” for vending space, in order to make a living.
One such area is the Diamond/Grove New Housing Scheme, where thousands of residents live. Earlier last year, an average of 25 vendors 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, to establish a new market tarmac in the Diamond/ Grove New Scheme where these vendors would be comfortable and benefit from a spacious and secure vending environment along with other vendors who were previously located at the Grove market.
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, Kaieteur News understands that to date, there are final “touches” being administered to the tarmac.
According to a source connected to the project, there are a few places on the tarmac that have water, and the contractor is currently working to correct this.
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.
Attempts made by Kaieteur News to contact the relevant authorities at the Ministry during last week in connection with the market tarmac, proved futile.
The market at Grove is dilapidated, with four of 24 stall holders remaining and does not allow for the accommodation of more vendors, therefore resulting in many persons who depend on vending in the area to be jobless and struggling to make ends meet with limited sources of income.
When Kaieteur News visited this market, only two stallholders were present and they stated that the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in Grove was initially responsible for the up-keep of their building.
However, the NDC claimed to “not have enough money to pay for security”, so this resulted in the vendors paying the security guard out of their own pockets.
At present, the Grove market is dusty and filled with cob-webs at all corners. Even the stalls are in shambles.
One vendor stated that she would depend on the little income from selling vegetables at the front of the road daily to pay bills but now, she has nowhere to vend. Another vendor stated that many residents would find it convenient to shop at the front since they have to pass that specific area to leave and return home after work everyday, and all they (residents) had to do was “stop and shop”.
Now, they are resorting to supermarkets and well-known established and licensed shops located on the public road, since the vendors have been removed.
Some vendors stated that they were told they have to pay rent for spaces in the new market area that is yet to be established, but they are still wondering when the establishment of the market will become a reality.
According to the residents, at present, the long-awaited tarmac is being utilised by young men as a recreational spot, for cricket and other sporting activities, while stray cows are often found browsing and sleeping there. Even dogs are benefitting from this initiative and it seems that the only non-beneficiaries are the intended beneficiaries, the vendors themselves.
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