The Georgetown City Council erred once again this year in allowing pavement and street vending over the Christmas season. It caused a huge problem within the city and it has led to a situation whereby some persons feel that they now have a right to sell wherever they please.
The Georgetown City Council is now reaping the cost of “flexing”.
They allowed the vendors to sell and now some of the persons who were allowed are not pleased that the time has come to end this concession.
Each year at Christmas, persons are going to feel that they should be allowed to vend on the pavements and on the streets and this will create huge problems for the Council. They are going to have an expectation that they should be allowed to vend on the pavements and streets.
The Council needs to return to the position of a few years back when it announced zero tolerance for illegal vending and ensured that the pavements and streets were kept clear of vending.
This saw a dramatic improvement in the business climate allowing greater investment in the commercial district and increased employment, including jobs for some of the very persons who were previously hustling a living by vending on the pavement.
During the run-up to last Christmas, it was difficult to move around freely on the pavements because of the vendors who were allowed to set up shop in front of established businesses. Many opted to simply walk on the road, rather that jostle with other pedestrians attempting to traverse pavements made narrower as a result of the pavement vending. It was a nightmare.
But the problem of illegal vending, made lawful by the “flexing” of the authorities, is not confined only to the problems it causes for the movement of pedestrians.
Illegal vending also hurts legitimate businesses and even vendors themselves who operate out of the malls and markets. Many small vendors have spent millions of dollars to develop their stalls in the new mall on Water Street.
Yet they have to compete with those who are allowed to simply set up shop on pavements and on the streets. This is unfair to the legitimate venders and makes a mockery of the efforts and money that have been taken to establish that mall so as to provide a place for vendors to sell.
The stallholders in the markets have also been shortchanged by the “flexing” policies over the years, and also by the policy of allowing selling outside of the markets. Many markets such as the La Penitence Market just opposite the Kaieteur News have become ghost facilities with only a trickling of persons entering to make purchases.
All the stallholders that invested millions in stocks and in developing their stalls are losing money and are simply only going to the market so as not to allow their investment to also go by the wayside.
At the La Penitence Market on Sundays, there are more persons selling on the roadway than there are inside the market. At Stabroek Market each morning there is a flea market which means that the stallholders within are denied sales that they should have since they are also paying rentals.
The Kitty Market is near to becoming a condemned location. It is in as poor a condition as one can imagine and it is also not doing good business.
There are other vendor locations where persons are living in stalls just in order to protect their investments and this despite the fact that the stalls are not bringing in any meaningful income.
Yet all of these malls and markets should have been thriving locations, but they are not because they have been hurt by vending which is taking place outside. This is not fair for legitimate vendors and stallholders.
Yet all of these markets should have been thriving sources of revenue for the city council. If the stallholders were making money rentals could have increased five to ten times. This would have made money for the Council and avoid it having to continuously be making the plea for new sources of income.
The city council does not need new sources of income. It needs to increase its take from existing sources.
But in order to do this it needs to solve the problem of illegal vending because this is what is causing real problems for those who vend within markets and malls established for vendors.
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