The Public Works Ministry’s removal of stalls outside the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) is being dubbed as a subterfuge to deprive pro-opposition vendors of the influx of profits likely to come from healthcare workers, who have just received salary increases. Making this nexus today was opposition-aligned Economist, Elson Low.

The economist said it was “ironic” that as President, Dr Irfaan Ali announced the salary increases on Monday evening, vendors and their makeshift stalls were being removed from the vicinity of the GPHC. Georgetown’s Mayor, Ubraj Narine and an Opposition Member of Parliament were filmed lying under a vehicle in protest.

“I think it pretty ironic that on the same night we’re hearing that healthcare workers are finally getting salary increases – which so many of them deserve and we expect that they should be getting that and more – that you’re seeing the destruction of the vendors’ (stalls) right opposite the hospital, almost as if to say that they (vendors) are not allowed to benefit as these funds go through the economy,” Low said during a press conference facilitated by the Office of the Opposition Leader this morning.

Opposition Parliamentarian, Ganesh Mahipaul was keen to note that the Ministry has no legal power to remove the vendors.

He said, “That street – New Market Street, is not gazetted as a public road, and it does not fall under the remit of the Ministry of Public Infrastructure or Public Works. It falls under the remit of the Mayor and City Councillors (M&CC) of Georgetown.”

The MP added that the M&CC has exclusive control over the road networks.

“The fact that the Minister had the audacity to intervene, disrespect the Local Authority area and did what he did, speaks to a clear violation of the Constitution, a clear disrespect for elected officials at the level of our Local Democratic Organ,“ the Member of Parliament said.

Opposition Leader, Aubrey Norton also condemned the removal of the sellers, noting that their eviction is connected to pro-government business owners putting pressure on the government to have vendors expelled from in front of their business places.

“What is happening on New Market Street is linked to one or two PPP businesspersons who believe that people who are vending have no right to vend, even if they aren’t in conflict with their business. So, we have to see this for what it is: It is part of the PPP regime’s wickedness aimed at ensuring that our constituents do not enjoy life,” Norton said.

He added that this is the season for joy and the removal of the vendors strikes at the heart of “Christians and Christian-oriented people”.

“The government, two weeks before Christmas is seeking to place the vendors in misery, where they cannot mine their children. This government’s task is to create employment, not destroy self-employment. These are not acts that are occurring whimsically. These are well-planned, orchestrated wickedness on the part of the Irfaan Ali/Jagdeo and the PPP,” the Leader said.



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