President Dr Irfaan Ali this morning announced major expansion and upgrade works for the Parika Market, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) with the aim of regularising roadside vending there.
The Head of State, accompanied by Prime Minister Mark Phillips and several ministers, conducted a walk-about around the area during which he interacted with vendors, shoppers as well as the market’s officials.
Speaking with reporters afterwards, he highlighted some of the pressing issues that the management of the market faces including illegal vending outside the market, inadequate infrastructure and facilities, and insufficient revenues.
Currently, the market earns approximately $1.2 million monthly but its expenses – inclusive of wage/salary bill, garbage collection and utilities dues – exceed the revenues.
Additionally, there is another $10 million in rent outstanding for the market.
President Irfaan Ali speaking with an elderly shopper at Parika Market this morning
“Here is where the government comes in. So, it is obvious that they don’t have any capacity or capability to invest in infrastructure upgrade here, and this is a public service – the entire region and people from Berbice, all over, utilize the service.”
President Ali indicated that during his interactions with the vendors this morning, there was a willingness to relocate. To this end, he has instructed Minister within the Public Works Minister Deodat Indar and Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond to engage the Market Management Committee as well as the vendors on moving this process forward.
“We’ve already initiated some discussions with the people who have the ballfield – there are two ballfields. So we’re going to upgrade one so they can use that one and see if we can extend the market in this additional land. So what we’ll do is that we will expand the tarmac. We’ll look at putting in the walkway canopy that they want, and then we will also look at enhancing the facilities, washroom facility and everything.”
“Sometimes we have to make hard decisions. Sometimes people have to embrace decisions that may seem hard initially, but decisions that will ultimately benefit them, benefit everyone and take away a lot of problems. So, we will invest in that and then we’ll ask everybody to move in the [expanded] market.”
Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Minister Oneidge Walrond engaging a vendor at Parika Market
According to the Head of State, these follow-up discussions will commence sometime this week when the minister will return to talk to the various stakeholders.
The President expressed his hope to have these talks wrapped up as early as possible so that physical work can begin.
“The consultations shouldn’t last more than two weeks, depends on how it goes. And then we’re going to try to see what additional resources are needed and then we have to move forward. But definitely, something has to be done… I hope before [six months] we can start something physically here because it is a major issue. We cannot allow it to continue and I’m not prepared to allow it to continue. All of us will have to embrace the decision.”