Oct 03, 2016 Letters
Minister Ronald Bulkan’s letter to Georgetown Mayor Ms. Chase-Green, as it relates to the moving of vendors at the Bourda Market along Robb Street, is the required level of ministerial guidance needed in instances where time-honoured principles, rights, and the rule of law are threatened. The responses to the minister’s letter by Mayor Chase-Green, former mayor Ranwell Jordan, and Town Clerk Royston King notably have lost sight of the intent and principles adumbrated.
Since King took up the role as Town Clerk the city administration has adopted a posture of not seeking to bring on board the collective will of Georgetown citizens in managing the business of the city. This posture has deepened after the Local Government Elections and installation of a new Council. One reason why laws are made is to protect the weak and vulnerable from being exploited by the strong and mighty. The Town Clerk and Council are placed in privileged positions, not to trample on time-honoured principles, rights and laws but, to protect and advanced them.
The culture of turning up, removing vendors, and then seeking a justification after must come to an end. It is expected that if the vendors are in violation of the city by-laws, the appropriate action of giving warning or notice to those who are in violation of the specific law, will be done.
The Council’s argument in justifying the reason for removing the vendors and accusing the entire group of being guilty-which is saying to consumers that no vendor can be trusted-has also not seen it presenting the appropriate advice from the departments responsible for public health, etc, to so act.
There are serious implications for the Council’s action, in this instance, that it does not want to take note of. This includes the absence of giving notice for whatever form of cleaning it had intended to carry out, which placed the vendors in difficult circumstances, put their perishables at risk, and resulted in loss of investment.
This group of self-employed workers is engaged in the most basic of subsistence business. They invest their little money in purchasing items, hoping to sell, and make profit on their investment. In instances some trust or credit their product to pay the supplier when the items are sold. Many are out there with other financial obligations to honour to family and self. Every day they vend it is being done in a leap of faith that at the end of the day if they do not make a profit, they at least will be able to cover the cost of their investment.
This is a vulnerable group in society and only an uncaring and ruthless administration will disregard these factors when making decisions. With limited employment and economic opportunities available in this society, when those who have independently gotten up and decided they are going to do something to improve their circumstance, such efforts are not to be crushed and destroyed.
The Council is also losing sight that economic activities pursued by these persons not only provide services at competitive rates but also help government not to have to confront social ills such as petty crimes, street begging, prostitution, garrison communities, and school dropout. Such scenarios affect all and have implications for the development of society.
All efforts must be made to move away from tyrannical and gut-feeling management. No council can succeed in developing the city if it does not factor in the needs and rights of all. No council can succeed when development is seen through narrow prism and with little or no regard for the human element as established in time- honoured principles, rights and the rule of law.
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