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Political fallout likely from City Council’s demolition of stalls; Mayor denies betrayal

The derelict Bedford Methodist School building and a number of the demolished stalls.

City Mayor Hamilton Green Monday night denied that he betrayed several Bourda Market vendors whose stalls were demolished during a pre-dawn operation that authorities said was necessary so that the heavily clogged drains could be cleaned and a derelict building could be torn down.

“May say this to those who say I betrayed them: From the time I became Mayor I suffered at the hands of my Councillors and the previous government; all trying to help the vendors. I have been a friend of the vendors since I became Mayor because I feel for some of them,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Vendors expressed grave disappointment that they were being robbed of their livelihoods to pay their bills and take care of their families by a government that they voted for at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections. “Breaking up our own things? What is this?…Is a new dispensation. Oh man! Come one! This is what people in office doing,” said Desiree Dey who has been vending at that location for 40 years.

Another irate vendor suggested there could be political fallout as a result of the action taken by the Municipality ahead of Local Government Elections likely to be held in December or early 2017. “Local government elections and they will want us to vote for them. They going to want us to vote for them and this is what they do to us. This is disrespect to the highest,” she said.

Meanwhile, a Bourda Market handyman, Michael Balkarran Singh accused members of the Georgetown City Constabulary of physically abusing him and using racial slurs against him. “They said no coolie man nah suppose to protest with Black people. However, due to circumstances Black people and Coolie people whenever done I count it as one because we are all Guyanese; that is we nationality,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. Singh said he went to the nearby Constabulary Outpost to report the incident and he was chased away.michael balkarran
Heavy duty machinery demolished several stalls that stood for decades on a pavement and over a drain parallel to the old Bedford Methodist School that has been bought by a city businessman for land use. The vendors plied their trade on Bourda (Piggott) Street between Regent and Robb Streets.

The Mayor observed that there are three sets of vendors on Bourda Street: Those who shouldn’t be vending, those who have made no effort to improve themselves and another set who have complied.”

When Demerara Waves Online News visited the scene late Monday afternoon, the vendors complained bitterly that they felt betrayed by Mayor Green who had promised them repeatedly that their stalls would not have been broken down. “He said he was always the last resort but he will make this one last time and he promised faithfully that that wouldn’t be it,” he said.

But the Mayor said for more than two years now those vendors were given notice to remove and it was evident that since being there for decades they have done nothing to improve themselves. He said the time has come for the conditions of the Capital City to be improved.

The vendors said when they met with the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and his staff they claimed that they were shocked about the breaking up of the stalls as they had not been told of it before. Dey said the vendors had proposed about two years ago that the Council should buy the school property, demolish it and allow vendors to sell there.

Another vendor recalled Green telling them the old three-flat school would have been broken down last Saturday and that they should not have opened for business.

At one time, she said the vendors had initially told that they would have been allowed to shift their stalls again from the pavement to the street so that building could have been torn down. Then, they were told that they would have been relocated to the John Ford Car Park, but Dey said vendors reminded the authorities that the court had prohibited vending there.

The Mayor denied telling them that they could shift their stalls on the road, but assuring them that they could return to the area if they agreed to build attractive stalls. “They have been there for all those years and the stalls have seen no improvement,” he said.

The Mayor vowed that the municipality would be going after vendors and businesses that are blocking up the drainage system. He said he was unaware that officials of the City Council have received monies unofficially to facilitate the removal of the vendors outside the old school building. Absolute nonsense! I don’t know anything about that. That is the vulgarity of some people who just want to have their own way,” he said.

Asked why the bush medicine and other vendors, who are adjacent to the Bourda City Constabulary Outpost have not been removed, he said that would be done in due course. Told that vendors were upset that GuyNaz, located at Bourda Street and North Road, had built a section of his building over the alleyway and the Bourda Street drain, the Mayor said GuyNaz spends money on maintain the alley. About the covered drain, he said GuyNaz would be asked to remove the structure.