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Mixed reactions about Stabroek Market area restoration

A truck carrying away demolished stalls.

A truck carrying away demolished stalls.

Stalls around the Stabroek Market area were Sunday morning demolished and badly clogged drains cleaned, leaving the more than 100 vendors divided with some saying they feel politically betrayed by a government they voted for.

A vendor was heard telling her colleagues that she had collected the identification cards of all her children and had escorted them to the polling station to vote for the coalition to avoid then Town Clerk Carol Sooba from remaining office because they would have been removed “but baps, look now wah happen.”

Clothing vendor, De Jonge suggested that the aim is to make the place more attractive for tourists but he urged government to always remember that it was Guyanese who voted for the coalition-led administration. “Not because you get a new local government you have to cast us away like if we are dogs on the street; we need a living too. We are Guyanese, we are not foreigners. You can’t look to suit the foreigners and leave the Guyanese out. When they had wanted us, it was Guyanese people from right off the road here out them there,”  said Brian De Jonge who has been vending at the Stabroek Market area for more than 25 years.

He lamented that the removal of the vendors has come at a time when Guyana’s economic activity was in tatters and could not depend on a trickle of tourists. “We done already suffering with this economy. It’s a down-down economy. I don’t care how they boost it up with tourism; right now tourism cannot boost this economy because it is not every day you get tourism but Guyanese have to survive everyday,” he said. “Since the new government, the present situation of the economy in this country is dead; there is nothing much for poor people to survive right now and you will take the little we have to get nothing,” he said.

The vendors are not convinced that the vacant lot would be a source of lucrative business because it is far away from the business centre. “They make plans and promise the people all sorts of things- the moon and the stars- and after they finished voting at the elections, look the backlash that they are getting,” she said.

Georgetown Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green, who spearheaded the operation, appeared hardly worried about a political backlash from a number of vendors who complained that they would end up being jobless and could not enjoy the good life that the David Granger-led coalition promised for the 2015 general and regional elections.

“Political votes would not be lost in my opinion when what we want to put in place is put in place and people operating from there. No country you get satisfaction from everybody but you have to start somewhere,” she told Demerara Waves Online News. Chase-Green appealed to the vendors to “work with us” in making the area a better place.

Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan said while several of the 140 vendors would be allowed to return, others would have to stay away permanently. He also shrugged off suggestions that the coalition was damaging its support base. “Itstabroek_garbage

Overseas-based Guyanese, Richard Wray, who was in the area as part of a private visit to his homeland, welcomed the decision by the Georgetown City Council to restore the area. “This is a historic area. It needs to be kept clean and accessible to people in emergency situations as well and this is part of the history of Guyana and they will come to appreciate a clean environment that this place used to be 30 years or so,” he said.

More than 100 vendors who ply their trade on the western pavement alongside Demico and across the drain on car park would not be allowed to sell there for at least the next four months, Chase-Green said. Vendors, who have stalls in the market, have already received notices that they must occupy their stalls. “Those that have stalls have to return to their stalls in the market, arcade, behind the fire station and inside the market- you must return to your stalls,” the Mayor said.

However, vendors were concerned that the vacant lot at the corner of Hadfield and Lombard Streets has not been prepared for them and more so were out-of-bounds from the major path of existing and potential customers.  Among those to be relocated are the headwear, bread, phone card, and cellular phone accessory vendors.

There were also vendors who praised the exercise by the Georgetown City Council. “The clean-up is very good because the vendors have the place very dirty. We asked for a change and we are seeing change,”  one vendor said. One of her colleagues said “I love the clean-up by the President, Mayor of whosoever doing it because plenty vendors when they finish selling in the afternoon, they gone home and leave the place real nasty and stink and this is not Guyana,” she said.

When the rickety wooden stalls and covers over the western drain parallel to Demico were removed, all that could be seen were stagnant water, innumerable Styrofoam boxes and other types of solid waste.

Several truckloads of waste were carted off to the Haags Bosch landfill site, leaving the area clean. “The place feeling light already,” remarked a vendor who participated in the clean-up exercise. Many vendors said they participated in the clean-up operation although they knew that they would be removed.

Mayor Chase-Green pointed to the centuries-old historical value of the Stabroek Market and Demico area that is related to Brickdam and the 1763 Monument at the Square of the Revolution. She noted that Guyana was observing its 50th Independence Anniversary and it should be done with pride.

  • . I don’t care how they boost it up with tourism; right now tourism cannot boost this economy because it is not every day you get tourism but Guyanese have to survive everyday,” he said. “Since the new government, the present situation of the economy in this country is dead; there is nothing much for poor people to survive right now and you will take the little we have to get nothing,” he said SO WHAT THIS MAN IS SAYING,THINGS R LOOKING GOOD LIKE THE 80’S AGAIN,LONG LIVE PRO VERITY.

    • Amenhotep

      Your pessimistic mindset is the reason why poverty will live forever. Of course tourism is not there everyday, because the infrastructure and present conditions does not allow for it to flourish. If you create the environment for tourism and make it safe, you will see the tourist return in larger numbers every year. Anything good needs a good place to start. Think positive, be optimistic, strive for more and better! One Guyana!

      • MEMES Unlimited

        With full respect, your meme…thought, idea…”Anything good needs a good place to start. Think positive, be optimistic, strive for more and better! One Guyana”….hope it catches on with the masses but wishful thinking and lack of specificity will disallow its realization.

    • MEMES Unlimited

      I think you are absolutely right that tourism cannot boost the economy since the main tourism business thrust is relegated to countries with white sandy beaches and blue waters with modern hotel facilities and balcony viewing galleries of people frolicking and the wide open expanse of sea.
      Guyana’s niche is strictly ecotourism which is fraught with the dangers of wild animals, poisonous snakes, deadly malaria/dysentery/leaches/dengue/chagas disease/chikungunya/schistosomiasis/leishmaniasis/bush yaws…all listed in travel advisories as “worst tropical diseases to avoid like the plague”. ECOTOURISM IS NOT FOR THE TIMID AND FOLKS WITH KIDS BUT FOR THE HARDY AND ADVENTOUROUS LOT. THIS PERSENTAGE IS MINISCULE COMPARED TO MAINSTREAM – INDUSTRY STANDARD TOURIST DESTINATIONS.

  • SYL

    Its sociology at work, and human tendency to change is exactly what’s portrayed Vendors its not political, its called change for the best. Vendors did you notice the garbage , do you like the garbage that can cause diseases? In the strategy of marketing, always remember to have quality of goods and services, affordable and competitive prices, and once those are in place you sell in volume, even if you are located on the mountain top. Did you ever consider why a Chinese business, in particular restaurants do better than most rest. its because of the reasons I mentioned . Cleanliness is the best for the business. Hope higher taxes are not implimented.Have good prices and service and you guys shall make it.

  • rudeo

    Chinese build and open business in far off and out of the main pathways…and they get plenty sales….its product and services….who can prove to me that people only buy from the vendors under their noses?


    Burnham made the black people into suitcase traders and after 50 years they still remain in small minded business, they sell in squalor, they are arrogant when approached for a deal they don’t want change for better they want to remain is that same way through generations. they don’t want cohesion among themselves to establish strong economic power simply because they don’t trust each other. Their argument is so ridiculous it’s laughable, they don’t want to be moved to Hadfield St corner because they will lose their customers, this is half a corner away from their current spot, my God ignorance is a terrible thing.
    The Government needs to establish strip shopping malls with tended washroom facilities to accommodate them at reasonable rents so they can carry on their trade without messing up the city.

    • Amenhotep

      Peter; Don’t you think it’s time to let LFSB rest in peace. They say that stagnation breeds infestation of the worst kinds. LFSB, did not make black people into suitcase traders. What he did was to inject an idea with the intent for the people to build on it, but instead we all sat back waiting for someone to hold our hands and pull us up to the next level.
      No leader is perfect, but we must take what good they have done and build on it, not to tear it down and start over. LFSB has long gone, and we all need to move on.

      • MEMES Unlimited

        “LFSB did not make black people into suitcase traders…it’s time to let LFSB rest in peace”??…..of course he is resting in peace but his historical legacy remains intact and cannot be refuted or shelved.
        LFSB’s political policies, massive ill guided nationalization of major industries with all of its international controlled purchasing linkages….essentially bankrupted Guyana. With little foreign currency, massive graft and corruption, cessation of importation of highly essential goods;…citizens had little or no recourse but to trade with gold/some US$/sugar; to trade and barter for essential goods from Suriname, Venezuela, T & T, etc., to satisfy the most basic needs of Guyanese and especially for young children.
        I think what Peter is alluding to is that Black (African) people with less financial resources than the Indian pooled resources; was at the bottom end with “suitcase trading” as opposed to the larger Indian methods of large boats shuttling goods. African Guyanese have remained in that “small minded” trading model, again due to limited cash resources and the necessity to generate fast dollars to live on a day to day basis….”turn over business”
        What is sorely needed at this stage with that group of small traders is to structure new business and trading models by Govt./Private enterprise and to provide macro funding/access to credit of goods from large importers into groups and sub-groups of similar businesses, for pooled resources and divvying up of the profits in an equitable manner….lets not bury our heads in the sand and bemoan references to past leaders since all of us stumble and fail most of the time and succeed only when such variances are corrected.

    • Half IndianHalfBlack

      Peter, how on earth Burnham and black people come into this mix. Be sensible man. Enough of the nonsense. Burnham dead. Cheddi dead. Live in the present and see value of the now time.

      People need to change for the better. Move them and clean up the area. Life will be better in an organised and clean environment. This has nothing to do with who vote for who. Clean environment benefits all.

  • Amenhotep

    It’s time to rise above the gutter and stench, to an environment that befits the quality of the Guyanese people. In order to attract more business and tourism, you need to promote a clean and business friendly environment.
    There is no point in dreaming BIG and thinking small.
    Thinking outside of the box, or being progressive should not be a political pawn. This is about the future of the country and the mind set of the people. Don’t let ignorance stand in the way of progress.
    We are an independent nation, but a dependent people. We depend on the government to fix every aspect of our lives and we depend on relatives abroad for financial support. This mentality will keep a nation stagnant.
    Instead of asking what the country can do for us, we should ask, what can we do for our country. These were the words of JFK that sparked a change in the American way of thinking.
    To demand better, we must do better and things will be greater!