– City Mayor reiterates call for Market committee
Vendors used a special interactive meeting which was called by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) yesterday to air concerns which they believe are hampering the development of the city markets and by extension, their businesses.
Stallholders and other operators at the city’s two major municipal markets – Stabroek and Bourda – expressed difficulty with the unavailability of parking, poor toilet facilities, poor lighting, security, flooding and constabulary officers’ involvement in illegal matters, as some of the major issues ailing the system.
City Mayor Hamilton Green and his delegation met with the vendors to identify issues affecting them, in an attempt to devise ways of addressing them.
Vendors said they are losing business because of the inconvenience the unavailability of parking is posing.
At the Stabroek Market meeting, a vendor said that he took almost an hour to find a parking space, “…and I have a stall here in the market,” the man told the Mayor. He added that persons have to park a far distance away from the market, “and sometimes when you go back, something is missing from your car.”
Additionally, persons operating in the Bazaar were concerned and even upset about the unavailability of an offloading area. This was echoed by several vendors who said they face difficulty using the southern end of the market to offload their goods and having to fetch it to the northern end of the market where they operate.
“You can’t offload your goods on the road, in front of the Bazaar, ‘cause the police quick to come and arrest you,” a woman stated.
The increase of petty thievery was also discussed. One vendor opined that the constant occurrence is scaring away customers… “persons are afraid of being pick pocketed.”
Another concern was the alleged involvement of Constabulary officers in illegal activities. One woman explained to Mayor Green that she has a problem with another vendor pertaining to their operations which is in close proximity, but can get no redress because she is convinced that constabulary officers have taken money to look the other way instead of getting to the bottom of the matter.
Other vendors cheered in support, while accusing the constabulary officers of collecting bribes and not addressing matters that hamper the smooth running of the facility.
As it relates to health, the vendors called for additional toilet facilities to be built, while requesting that the existing facilities be opened later in the evening to facilitate vendors working after closing hours.
One woman explained that people would urinate and defecate around the toilet areas. Another man said, “If KFC is closed or you can’t make it to Demico, you have to do it where you can and how you can.” The man said that vendors are left without an option.
“The same thing goes for the garbage situation. After certain hours you have nowhere to throw your garbage and if they catch you, you are fined.”
A woman suggested that a stand pipe be built in the market, after expressing that it is difficult to get water to the stalls, since there is no running water. Complaints continued with flooding, leaky roofs and poor drainage; vendors said that their goods are being soaked because of leakages. They explained that business gets difficult when it rains and their area is easily flooded, preventing customers from accessing their stalls.
At Bourda Market there were similar concerns. Those vendors requested that lights be placed at the market’s ‘green’ area which they say is dark at night and prone to criminal activities.
Mayor Green told the vendors that “from the Mayor down, the Council has its inadequacies. “We have our shortcomings, but government has not allowed the Council to breathe. We can’t exhale.”
Green was explaining that the Council lacked three main components for effective operations; money, manpower and machinery. He also mentioned the ongoing battle between the Council and acting Town Clerk Carol Sooba as an issue affecting Council operations.
The vendors were told that their concerns were minor and could be
immediately fixed, but the issues such as difficulty with the government are the genesis of some problems they are facing. Touching on some of the individual concerns, Green stated candidly that there is no plan for Georgetown. He noted that regular assessment of the city and its operations have to be done, but the government ministers responsible, have no city plan for Georgetown.
The Mayor however reiterated calls for the vendors to organize themselves into a market committee that could speak on their behalf. He also advised that the committee send a delegation to speak with President Ramotar and the Works Minister to address the issues they face.
He stated further that the Council would work closely with the committee to address existing and arising problems facing the vendors.
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