Town Clerk, Carol Sooba said plans are being made to identify accommodation on Kitty Public Road to relocate the vendors before a private group demolishes the Heritage building.
“We have to do demolish the building because it is a threat to life and limb,” she said.
Sooba confirmed that a private group, which recently submitted a proposal to the Local Government Ministry, has expressed an interest in bringing down the aged colonial wooden structure. The Guyana Fire Service has already declared the Kitty Market a fire hazard.
She could not say whether that same group would be responsible for reconstructing the market which once housed the community centre, health centre and City public health inspectorate.
Vendors complained bitterly on Friday that the central government and the Mayor and City Council have ignored their pleas for several years now to rehabilitate the market. “Given the fact that the government has been allocating State funds for the repair of markets around the country we, who depend on the Kitty Market for a living, feel that we are being victimized. We are also convinced that there is a conspiracy at work in relation to the disposal of the market to private entrepreneurs,” said the Kitty Market stallholders at a news conference.
Junior Local Government Minister, Norman Whittaker shifted blame for leaving the market to fall into disrepair to the City Council, saying the municipality should have reinvested revenues in the maintenance of the facility. “The Council would have been garnering revenue from the operations of the market over the year and any prudent financial manager would have put aside some funds from the revenue garnered to take care of maintenance and depreciation of the assets so that at the end of its productive life you could replace it,” he said.
Whittaker refused to say what happened to funds that were provided by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) for overhauling the municipal market.
Representative of the Kitty Market Action Committee, Tacuma Ogunseye said the group would lobby local, regional and international bodies including the IDB for support to rehabilitate or reconstruct the market.
Ogunseye defended the need to have a market despite the emergence of several other entities like supermarkets and stores in the Kitty-Campbelville area. “I think all the Caribbean experiences have shown that the historic markets are still relevant, not only that it serves the community with cheaper prices but also keep a historical legacy and create something that will attract tourists,” he said.
Vendors, who have been selling there for decades, strongly recommended that the market be rebuilt. “I think things will be better for everybody around the community,” said Sharon Austin. “Market bad because when rain fall you have to cover up. You ain’t happy in the market because the rain does affect you and this is we dollars (income) and we have to pay rates and we have to pay bills,” said Geeta Jailall. “I believe the market should be repaired and it is the Council that killed the market. The remove the wholesalers from outside the market that used to come from all over with their goods so they kill the market,” said Grace Stewart who owns several stalls inside the market but now sells outside.
The Town Clerk said the Georgetown municipality is obliged to reconstruct the market to the same design because it is a Heritage site.