The Mayor and City Council (M&CC) of Georgetown has its hands full investigating a mystery: the disappearance of a chain-link fence around the stalls that were erected for vendors who were shifted from the dilapidated Stabroek Wharf.
The fence around Russel Square was put there to keep out vagrants and other undesirables.
But bit by bit, the fence vanished.
The case of the disappearing fence came up recently at a recent City Statutory Meeting.
Officials at the City Engineer Department were grilled about the fence.
The officials were initially unable to respond to the queries. This prompted City Mayor Ubraj Narine to call for an investigation into the matter.
“What you mean, you don’t know? Where is the fence? Where are the posts? What do you mean the fence magically disappeared?” I think this matter calls for an investigation,” Mayor Narine said.
Former Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had also expressed her concern.
She suggested that the City Engineer Department should pay for the fence if the officials could not provide a plausible explanation for its removal.
“I can recall clearly that Council purchased materials to erect a perimeter fence around that area… the Engineer’s Department must tell this Council what happened to the fence and those responsible should pay for it.”
Deputy City Engineer, Rasheed Kellman later told the Council that the fence was vandalised by social rejects dwelling around the Stabroek Market area. Kellman claimed that the matter had been reported to the Council before but no action was taken.
But the missing fence is not the only issue affecting vendors at Russel Square. Speaking to Kaieteur News, the vendors blasted the City Council over the lack of security and other problems.
At least three stalls were burglarised within the past month. Stallholders said that despite paying monthly rentals, which range from $4,300 -$8,600 for single and double stalls, “we don’t have no proper security and basic utilities like electricity and washroom facilities.”
“This place has become an open thoroughfare for everybody, the people who selling outside and vagrants would come in between the stands urinate and dump garbage. The place smells of like filth and we are paying to sell here.”
In addition to the sanitation issues, the sellers claim that they are forced to use Cevon‘s Waste Disposal’s facility on the bus park,” because the toilet doors (at Russel Square) are always closed.”
“We had breakages because we do not have security and proper lights in the area.”
In many cases, vendors said they have had to find ways to install their own lights. This ranged from using vehicle batteries to power bulbs to rigging up illegal connections.
The stallholders said that they have complained “time and time again,” but to no avail.
“The Council doesn’t seem to care; all they care about is that their money is up-to-date. That is all that matters to them.”
During the recent statutory meeting held on August 12, Chief Constable, Andrew Foo was asked about the breakages and vandalism.
The Council was informed that the Constabulary Department has no immediate plan in place to address the situation.
They were told that Chief Constable to (Ag) Town Clerk Sharon Harry – Munroe has proposed a plan.
Councillor Heston Bostwick was among those who criticised the City Constabulary Department for the lack of a security plan for the vendors.
He noted that given its responsibility to provide security for the city, the Constabulary Department should have a plan, which covers the security of vendors of Russell Square.
Councillor Clinton Hinds stressed that security is among the necessities that should have been provided for even before vendors were relocated from Stabroek Wharf.
“We cannot remove these vendors from an area deemed to be life-threatening and relocate them to another place where they continue to face danger. Necessities such as stalls, provision for solid waste disposal, sanitation and security should have been in place before the vendors are relocated to that area,” Hinds added.