Despite the controversy surrounding the sale of spots along the city’s seawall route for this year’s Easter celebrations, some citizens are paying as much as $20,000 to participate in the activity.
Kaieteur news understands that despite the lack of consensus between officers of the Mayor and City Council, (M&CC) and the Town Clerk on the issue of prices for vending along the seawalls on Easter Monday, some vendors said that they have paid the requested fees.
When Kaieteur News visited the seawalls yesterday, persons were seen setting trampolines, tarpaulins and tents to participate in the sale of various items for the anticipated Easter Monday festivities.
They shared mixed views on the matter.
While some persons claimed to have paid the requested fee to City Hall, others said that they did not pay for the spots to vend along the seawall.
“It is not customary for us to pay these prices; at first we would pay a small fee, but all of sudden the price increase to as much as $20,000, then the Council never really agreed on this amount for a spot. Even the Minister said that he is willing to have the Town Clerk withdraw the price if it is not a Council decision,” one vendor noted as she was setting up her trampoline.
“Most persons are only making a few extra dollars out here. We don’t make a big profit on these things; it’s about clean family fun. Just people coming to enjoy the sea breeze, kite flying and so on with their families,” the woman added.
Mobile food vendor, Eman Nurse, has been operating out of his caravans near the bandstand at the seawalls for over 30 years. He said that this is the second time the Council has attached such a cost to vending along the seawall at Easter.
“Last year, I paid $20,000 for one food cart and $15,000 for the other but the Council is not consistent with the prices, they started off a few years ago with a small fee of maybe $5,000 or $7,000 and suddenly jumped to the current amount.”
But vendors are not only confining themselves to the seawall adjacent to Carifesta Avenue and behind the Police Headquarters, Eve Leary, they have also returned to the location opposite Sheriff Street which was recently made a prohibited area.
A father of five, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that he could not afford to pay the fee.
“To tell you the truth, is just a lil hustle I does do, sell me lil soft drink and so. I hear that we got to pay $10,000 dollars for the spot opposite Sheriff Street but I ain’t really know what going on. I just setting up me tent so I could mek a small piece for dem children fuh de Holiday. I hear that de place open up for Easter.”
Nonetheless, the celebrations may have started early for quite a few families, as several persons were engaged in kite flying at virtually every section of the seawall.
Over the past several days, controversy brewed between M&CC officers and Town Clerk, (Ag) Carol Sooba over the sale of spots for the Easter holiday.
Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green maintained that the public should not pay a cent for spots on the seawall, while Sooba insisted that citizens must pay if they wish to occupy the spots on Easter Monday.
On Friday, Local Government Minister Norman Whittaker told media operatives that he is prepared to recant the Town Clerk’s decision if it is found that she is selling the space without the permission of City Hall.
“I have learnt that it is not a Council decision. In that respect, our intention is to engage the Town Clerk on the matter, but for now, I am guided by what is in the press. If it is not a Council decision, we will be engaging the Town Clerk to find out whether what was reflected in the press is true, and if it is correct, then we will ask the Town Clerk to reverse that decision,” Whittaker explained.
However, attempts made by this newspaper to contact the Minister yesterday for a further comment on the issue proved futile.
Last February, the Town Clerk took similar actions during the Mashramani celebrations, claiming that more revenue was needed to be raised for the cash-strapped Council. The exorbitant prices resulted in large companies pulling out from occupying the popular Merriman’s Mall.
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