The rent for occupying a space in the Kitty Market has increased noticeably. As a result, stallholders have been complaining bitterly that the move is not consistent with the flow of consumer traffic.
Kaieteur News recently caught up with a few stallholders, who have returned to market since it closed for construction, some three years ago.
While some vendors have started occupying spots in the market again; it does not come at a small fee.
According to the stallholder, “The rent has been increased from $1000 to as much as $14,000 per month.”
“So, we have found ourselves in a conundrum because we do not want to lose our stalls. But the fee attached is heavy and many people are finding it difficult to sustain their business in the face of the increase and low consumer support.
“We don’t have a big customer base flowing through the market so we are not making that kind of money here.”
In some cases, stallholders depend on other ventures to help them pay the rent.
“We love the environment at Kitty Market and we understand the need to increase the rent but not by so that amount.”
The stallholders claim that the newly rehabilitated spaces are much smaller than they are used to.
“Not only are we are paying a bigger rent but the spaces are much smaller,” the vendor said.
Another vendor explained that in addition to the increased payments to the City Council – some vendors have been taxed a daily rental to vend on the road corners, and a monthly fee to safeguard stalls in the Kitty Market for its reopening.
Meanwhile, city officials noted that approximately 70 percent of the work on the entire Kitty Market has been completed.
“The upper flat of the market houses the rates and taxes office, and has other spaces up for rent,” officials said.
The restoration of Kitty Market is estimated at $250 million.
The project, which is being executed by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has been faced with numerous delays due to cash flow among other issues.
Central Government intervened to rescue the rehabilitation of the Kitty Market when it awarded a contract of $25.1 million to BML Construction Services.
This essentially took the remaining project works out of the hands of the City Engineer’s Department that started
rehabilitation project on February 12, 2016.
The Council has since been receiving technical assistance from the Ministry of Communities to complete the project.
Last year, Councillor Oscar Clarke, who as head of City Hall’s Finance Committee, visited the site. He explained that the delays were partially due to an engineer from the Ministry who was instructed that external works be completed before the internal works are done.
The M&CC had been adamant about preserving the architectural design of the 19th century structure, as well as ensuring that the original vendors are not displaced were among the priorities for the municipality.
It was stated that the rehabilitated Kitty Market would feature a traditional health centre, offices for payment of rates and taxes, and a space for community councillors.
Shortly after the works started, the Council encountered difficulties. The work was reportedly stymied by the inability to procure materials and because the Council had owed contractors.
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