No overnight structures- M&CC seeks breathing room for Water St vending 

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Despite a High Court Order mandating vendors who ply their trade outside the Muneshwers Limited Building at Water and Commerce Streets, Georgetown, to remove structures from the area, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has allotted them time during the day to operate.

At the weekend several structures left behind by persons vending along the pavement and on the sides of the building were removed but some defiant vendors returned on Monday. Georgetown Mayor Alfred Mentor on Tuesday defended the vending operations there and said the City Engineers Department will remove all structures left beyond the allotted time.

The court order stemmed from a series of complaints that goes back 15 years and was granted by Chief Justice (ag) Roxanne George last November. In keeping with the order, the Mayor and City Council was mandated to seize the goods of vendors operating around the premises of Muneshwers Limited.

However, Mentore managed to strike a tripartite agreement that allows vendors to operate there until January 15, 2024.

“As long as nothing is left but persons are there overseeing whatever they bring there, based on our monitoring and regulating allow them to be there between this time and this time…as long as you leave it there overnight and the engineer realizes that, the City Engineer is empowered to remove it,” the Mayor said during a Press Conference at his office.

Mayor of Georgetown, Alfred Mentore during his interview with the News Room concerning the roadside vending situation in the city. (Photo: News Room/ December 11, 2023)

Mentore added that the Council is awaiting a feasibility study to decide on a way forward for vending at all city markets and bazaars. In the meantime, the Council is also seeking legal advice and will meet next Monday to discuss the issue of vending.

He further argues that Water Street is a public road but he could not say which are streets or roads that fall under the responsibility of City Hall. Nevertheless, Mentore said the council will enforce its mandate of ensuring the pavements and streets are not hindered with permanent structures.

But he is also of the opinion that vendors need a space to operate and the council is trying to find a temporary fix.

“At the end of the day, the streets is somewhere that we have to monitor and regulate as a council, it’s difficult for the judge to say you can’t use your streets in whatever fashion or form.

“The reality is that there’s an overreach; at the end of the day we know what we have to work with, we know how we have to treat with it and we know how we have to manage it in a way that is workable,” Mentore said.

Meanwhile, Councillor Gregory Fraser said the Council will not leave the vendors without a means of acquiring income. He pointed out that this sort of vending was in operation for several years and it was condoned by all.

“We allowed it to happen from its inception, but what has happened now (is that) it’s growing out of proportion and we need to control it.

“It has to be a win-win, we have to satisfy the businesses, we have to satisfy the vendors who are trying to get an honest living,” Fraser said.

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