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Charlotte Street vendors get apology
Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez yesterday apologised to members of the Charlotte Street Vendors Association for making a decision to move them to George Street without first consulting them. However, the decision still stands.
On Wednesday, Martinez announced the relocation of the vendors as part of an initiative to launch the Central Business District Revitalisation Programme in the city. He said the vendors are to be relocated to the old Angostura Bond property between George and Nelson Streets.
But after the move was severely criticised by the vendors, Martinez called a meeting at City Hall yesterday to try to smooth things out.
Martinez firstly apologised to the vendors, admitting he did not consult with them after the decision was taken by the corporation to relocate them.
“I am truthful to the fact that I didn’t consult with the vendors at the end when the decision was taken and the first people that I met with when I became Mayor of Port-of-Spain was the members of the administrative team of the Vendors’ Association and we were discussing the chaos on Charlotte Street and the vendors knew what the city had to do. Let us first apologise to the Vendors’ Association for not consulting them when we decided to take the decision at the end to relocate them to George Street,” he said.
However, when it was time to voice their concerns, the majority of the vendors did not specifically address the issue of the George Street move, but focused on the breakdown of the programme that had been set up to facilitate their operation on Charlotte Street.
Vendor Crystal Daniel complained that Port-of-Spain City Corporation councillors were not seen walking on Charlotte Street and such drastic measures should not have been taken by the corporation. She accused the councillors of being absent on the streets and taking in air-condition while working between 8 am to 4 pm.
“Things cannot get out of hand overnight. It takes a process and now we let it get out of hand? Everybody playing the blame game,” she said.
Port-of-Spain South MP Marlene McDonald, who was also present, said she was born in east Port-of-Spain and assisted the vendors even when she was in Opposition. However, she said two people were being paid by the corporation specifically to assist the vendors. But she said from the comments she heard, the councillors were not walking the streets, there was a communication breakdown and illegal vending was a major problem.
“Two people were hired to take care of the vendors to supervise and walk the street ensuring things go right, that there was not suppose to be a breakdown. I want to state that a Cabinet note cannot circumvent the laws of the land. You have to take it to Parliament and amend it in order to arrive at what you want.”
An irate Juliet Davy attempted to interrupt McDonald, but later said it was she and Melba Boxhill who were the ones hired to assist the programme. But Davy said they were “running the programme” without assistance and resources from the corporation.
“We running this programme assistance and resources from the corporation and we managed to keep it going. We live in a society where thanks is out the window. I am hurt to tears,” she said emotionally.
One vendor admitted they were vending illegally, but in a reference to the recent ruling against two clauses of the buggery law, pointed out there were other things which were previously illegal which were now being made legal.
The meeting was also attended by Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, acting fire chief Roosevelt Bruce, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management head Neville Wint and Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke. Bruce and Wint said they agreed with the mayor’s initiative as there were safety and emergency issues which were an issue on Charlotte Street due to the activity on the vendors. Bruce gave an example of an ambulance with a sick patient being unable to make its way down the street.
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