Last Updated on Monday, 20 November 2023, 15:42 by Denis Chabrol
Georgetown Mayor Alfred Mentore on Monday told vendors, who ply their trade outside Muneshwer’s Store on Water and Commerce Streets that he was negotiating for them to remain there until January 15.
“Ideally, from what I’ve gotten and from the discussions I’ve had, I’m pretty sure that you vendors will be able to remain there at least to January the 15th or thereabout so that you’ll be able to sell, to be able to ply your trade,” he told the vendors in City Hall’s compound based on discussions he has been having. He said he was working on the issue since last week and it was only now for a formal agreement to be reached.
The business enterprise has secured a High Court commanding the Mayor and City Council to remove the more than 30 vendors who have been selling clothing, food and other items on the pavement and hanging some of their items on the building.
Mr Mentore said while the Town Clerk interpreted the order to mean that the City administration must comply immediately to remove the vendors, his interpretation was that the Council has some time within which to enforce the order. “The Court order itself did not speak of when you’re supposed to move. The court speaks of removing you and making a decision to get you moved at the soonest possible time, based on the challenges that the business owner has in relation to the entrance to his place, the amount of things that are hanging all over his building and these different situations that he has challenged with,” he said.
He told the vendors that he was consulting with the owner of Muneshwer’s , lawyers for the Council and Muneshwer’s to allow the vendors to remain there throughout the Christmas Season so that they could catch sales for the season.
While the Council has not met to consider the High Court order, he made it clear to the vendors that based on the order their presence outside Muneshwer’s was now illegal. “Yes, the court has made its decision. It’s a lawful one and we are supposed to carry through that position based on the Council’s decision,” he said.
At least 20 years ago, City Hall had removed vendors from outside two nearby Water Street businesses in keeping with a court order. The road and pavement outside those two businesses remain clear until today.
At least one vendor said every effort must be made to regularise the area so that thieves are not harboured among the vendors. “Let the camera ‘thing’ so they (the government) see the hustlers, see the mugglers, see the runners, see the snatchers. It will be a clear transparent zone. No merchant won’t have to complain,” he said.
Demerara Waves was told that Muneshwer’s moved to the High Court to remove the vendors after one of the vendors hung something on the building’s gutter and pulled it down, sparking off a bitter disagreement between him and representatives of the business. “One person would have caused us to have this kind of issue at this time of the year,” he said.
Mr Mentore said corrective measures would be put in place to deal with the use of the street and pavement, blocking of the entrance and hanging things. “Those are things that we’ll have to deal with and everyone will have to comply because out of the discussion that I will have, I will come back with these measures and I will ask everyone of you to be able to treat with these issues so that we can all co-exist,” he added.
President of the Market Vendors Association Eon Andrews acknowledged that Muneshwer’s is entitled to ingress and egress and for no one to hang things on his building. He, however, said vendors “are entitled to sell on that road” once they keep it clean. Mr Andrews said if one person has triggered the court action, the City Police should have enforced the rules.
While Mr Andrews objected to any timeline for the removal of the vendors, the Mayor interjected and urged that “we must be respectful of the court and we also have to find ways to work with you, you work for us.” Mr Andrews accused the Mayor of blocking him from continuing to speak and walked away.
Deputy Mayor Denise Miller appealed to vendors “to give us the chance to work with you” because they need to earn to service their expenditures. “This Council will not hamper you in terms of a daily income based on international law to live and survive in this country so we want to strongly say to you that we will work with you,’ she said.