PORT of Spain mayor Joel Martinez publicly apologised to Charlotte Street vendors yesterday for deciding to remove them from Charlotte Street without consultation.
Speaking at a meeting with all stakeholders on the Charlotte Street Vending Programme at City Hall, Port of Spain, Martinez said the changes had to be made for the capital to progress. “Do we want progress in our capital city of Port of Spain? To see our city grow, as we move forward in life?
“When I came into office in 2016, my mandate was given to me to develop the city of Port of Spain. It is the capital of TT, which is faced with a lot of challenges over the years. I felt as a council such as East Port of Spain should be given an opportunity to change. We decided as a council and we did it. “We want to be able to tell the world Port of Spain is a progressing city. It is all about progress and I want to encourage the conversation and for you to work with us. We represent the 400,000 people that come through City Gate. We are not above you, we are with you – and sometimes we make decisions that you will not like,” Martinez said.
Charlotte Street Vendors Association president Junior Lewis told the audience the programme failed because there was a breakdown in the structure, and a lack of communication between all stakeholders. Lewis said he had nothing against the development of the city, but was deeply concerned about the cost ofr the market to be developed on George and Nelson Streets. “I live in Port of Spain, George Street come like my backyard. I know it will take millions of dollars to build up that area and to develop that property it will take time. “To get people to come to purchase things on George, it will be hard. There are still people in this country who don’t use Charlotte Street, so what do you expect for George Street?
“It will be hard for us. Yes, we want progress and everyone has a share in this country. I want to see good things in the city, because I live in the city,” Lewis said. Meanwhile, outside City Hall a large group of the city corporation’s monthly-paid workers stood in a silent protest for their outstanding salaries.
Watson Duke, president of the Public Services Association (PSA), said while he stands in solidarity with the Charlotte Street vendors, he called on the city corporation CEO to meet with the union next Monday to discuss several issues affecting the workers.