-PM says collaboration integral to finding long-term solution
By: Indrawattie Natram
PRIME Minister Mark Phillips, describing the garbage situation at Charity as worrying, on Tuesday said the collaborative efforts of central government, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) will be required to find a long-term solution. He made these comments during a walkabout with Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mustapha and a team of technical and regional officials in the Region Two community, which has been affected by flooding since Boxing Day. Among the places visited were the squatting area, the market and the underused market tarmac. The team observed that vendors have erected their stalls over the drainage system. In addition to this illegal vending practice, a stockpile of garbage is blocking the drains.
“A lot of garbage has built up over the years around Charity. We from the government expect that the NDC, RDC and central government work together on a long-term project to fix this… I learnt that whenever it rains, the situation remains the same…With proper engineering work and help from the central government this can be fixed,” PM Phillips noted. Currently, over 20 vendors are selling over the drainage system and they have been accused of dumping garbage into the drains. While the Charity/Ursara NDC has been paying workers to clean the area, the water remains stagnant due to the blockage. The stench emanating from the drains is also unbearable for shoppers and those living nearby.
According Regional Chairperson Vilma De Silva, the garbage situation at Charity is an eyesore and on many occasions, the RDC and the NDC have tried to fix it but were unsuccessful. She explained that the stall owners are reluctant to move to the spacious tarmac area. Once the vendors take up spots there, the relevant authorities would be able to clean the drain, and ensure that it is free-flowing and without garbage. Regional Executive Officer (REO) Devanand Ramdatt who was part of the team, also expressed dissatisfaction with the vendors’ behaviour. He said while the regional administration is spending thousands of dollars on fuel to operate the pump, residents and vendors need to play their part by ensuring that garbage is properly disposed of.
VENDORS NOT MOVING
This newspaper understands that those stall owners received removal notices from the NDC years ago, but are refusing to move. When this newspaper conducted interviews with a few of the stall owners, they defended their decision to remain at the current location. According to them, more sales will be got in front of the market than on the tarmac. “We like being in front. The sales [are]
here. The tarmac is behind…too much walking distance for customers. When you in front, people come to buy what they want and gone. They would not want to come till to the back to search for an item,” Shelia Thomas, a vendor, said. Another vendor, John Abrams, said he has been vending in the area for over 15 years. He too noted that sales are more at the front than at the back where the tarmac is located.
“I does sell provision. There are so many other vendors like myself. A customer come, you sell, them gone. If I go to the back then, do you think customer go come search for me? We have a family to feed so we need to keep up with business and location is important,” Abrams said. The vendors said they can cooperate with stakeholders; however, an incentive must be provided to them before they move to facilitate the clearing process. “When they move us, we will be out of a job, we will be home. The pandemic is here, we need to feed we family… Where we will find food for the table if they want to move us then? Pay us for the time we will be home until the drainage work [done] and then we will return,” another vendor said.