WHILE former vendors of Merriman Mall have expressed disgust with the actions of the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) in making the area vending free, the Council is out exploring new grounds to increase the profitability of the vendors.Disgruntled vendors yesterday mounted a protest outside the Ministry of the Presidency, calling for justice after a rumour started making the rounds that vending would no longer be done at the said Mall. Speaking to this publication, persons emphasized that they had been vending at the mall in some cases for as long as 30 years, and the M&CC had removed them and left there persons who had been vending there for only a few years, and in some cases even months.
They also lamented complying with the Council’s criterion to keep the environment clean and the stalls in good condition.
Town Clerk Royston King has, however, denied that the vendors had plied their trade on the Merriman Mall for the length of time they claimed, and that they had ccomplied with the M&CC criterion to keep the place clean.
King noted, “Activities of those vendors who were permitted to ply their trade on the stretch from Cummings Street to Oronoque Street were not compatible with the mandate and mission of the Council to make Georgetown clean and green.”
The condition of the Merriman Mall prior to the cleaning-up exercise on Wednesday was deplorable, King said. Even if the vendors’ rent is to be considered, King noted, it cannot compare to the level of environmental damage they had inflicted to that portion of the city.
That apart, the vendors who were occupying that area were classed as wholesalers who go there only on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. However, over time they became retailers, and began competing with the Bourda Market vendors, to whom they usually wholesale goods.
King said the vendors were accordingly competing unfairly with persons who paid a higher rent and had to sell their stock at a higher price in order to gain a profit, while the Mall vendors were gaining double profits.
The M&CC is, however, in process of finalising a meeting with the vendors so as to update them on what the council has in the pipeline, the Town Clerk disclosed.
“We will be moving to relocate them to a more appropriate area, one which will allow them to make more money and allow the council to better manage them and the overspills,” he said, while explaining that he did not think the council would allow them to regain footing on that particular spot.
At the last meeting with the vendors in December, King mentioned that they had a covenant which involved the stalls having one height and one colour, garbage receptacles being available and so forth, to ensure that there was uniformity and cleanliness.
Unfortunately, the agreement was breached, thus the new meeting, which he hopes will bear fruit.
Additionally, with immediate effect, the area which was originally a skate park has been resurrected and the M&CC has called on all the skating committees to occupy the area and conduct their sporting activities there.
The Town Clerk confirmed that the area is also available for other social activities and for use of the public.
By Navendra Seoraj