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Reprieve for Charlotte Street vendors

Published: 
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Charlotte Street vendors have been given the green light to return to their traditional location next Thursday.

The decision to allow vending to return temporarily to the location was announced following a meeting between the vendors, Port-of-Spain East MP Marlene McDonald, Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein, Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez and Port-of-Spain City Corporation members at City Hall, Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning.

It came less than a week after the corporation announced its plans to relocate the 126 vendors to the old Angostura Bond property between George and Nelson Streets. The move is part of the city’s Central Business District Revitalisation Programme.

In a telephone interview after the meeting, Martinez said the change in position was as a result of delays in preparing the proposed site.

“We agreed, based on the fact that the site on George Street is not in a state of readiness, that we would reinstate the vendors and allow them to continue to ply their trade under strict guidance and management,” Martinez said.

Although yesterday’s meeting was meant for only the leaders of the Charlotte Street Vendors Association, dozens of their boisterous members showed up with attorney Gerald Ramdeen, who was armed with a pre-action protocol letter threatening legal action against the corporation over its handling of the situation.

In the letter, Ramdeen claimed the vendors had a legitimate expectation that they would be consulted, as they were officially recognised by the Government on three occasions between 2008 and 2012. He referred to a Cabinet minute from April 8, 2010, which set the terms of the temporary programme for the vendors and provided funding for the administration of it.

Speaking with reporters during an impromptu press conference in Woodford Square after the meeting, Ramdeen described the change in position as a significant victory.

Ramdeen also pointed out that although Government funding for the programme ended in 2012, veteran vendors Juliet Davy and Melba Boxhill continued to administrate it, at their own costs, since then.

“What they want now is to work with the corporation to put some structure in place so that the programme could be run properly,” Ramdeen said.

He also thanked Hosein for his assistance in convincing the corporation to amend its position.

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