Stabroek News Sunday
Court orders city to halt vending in front of Shamdas Kirpalani building
A High Court judge last week issued orders directing the Town Clerk to instruct the City Constabulary to prevent vendors from operating along the pavement in front of the Shamdas Kirpalani building on Regent Street, Georgetown.
Justice Simone MorrisRamlall issued the orders on Wednesday based on judicial review proceedings initiated by Kanayalal Kirpalani and Meera Kirpalani, the owners of the property. By way of a fixed-date application, they asked the court to grant orders directing the Town Clerk to instruct the City Constabulary to comply with the city by-laws by preventing persons from placing and storing any receptacles, boxes, carts, freezers, trays and other articles on the pavement and on the street in front of the building.
Senior Counsel K.A. Juman-Yassin, who appeared for the Kirpalanis, said the orders were granted as the judge found that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had a statutory duty under the Municipal and District Councils Act. He also said the court found that the defence filed by the Town Clerk did not amount to a defence.
The Town Clerk was also ordered to pay costs to the applicants in the sum of $100,000 by the 15th January, 2022.
When Stabroek News visited the property around midday on Saturday, it appeared that action had been taken as it was observed that a large section of the pavement in front of the store was cleared of vendors, in stark contrast to the section to the east.
The Kirpalanis’ application, seen by this newspaper, noted that for several years there has been a “proliferation” of vendors in front of their property, resulting in them complaining several times to the M&CC about the encumbrances on the pavement
and street. Their complaints, they said, were to no avail.
As a result, in 2010, they had filed a civil action, which led to a consent order being granted as the M&CC undertook to monitor
the pavement in front of the property and ensure there is no encumbrance. However, the application said the City Council failed to comply with the order. In 2015, the Kirpalanis sent a lawyer’s letter to the then Town Clerk Royston King for compliance but to no avail. They said complaints about the situation in front of the store were lodged again in December 2020, and October 2021 and their attorney asked that the M&CC abide by the previous court order but again there was no compliance.
In arguing for the necessity of the orders, the Kirpalanis contended that due to the encumbrances created by the vendors’ operations, sometimes neither they nor their customers
can park in front of the store. They said, too, that the congestion created by the vendors’ presence has also attracted pickpockets, who target their customers as well as members of the public who are passing by. They also said illegal substances were being sold and the congestion was used as a cover. As a result, they argued that unless the Town Clerk was directed by the court, they would continue to be inconvenienced and suffer financially “as potential customers avoid the store because of the pavement vendors and vendors on the road.”
In an affidavit in response, Town Clerk Candace Nelson denied the claim that the M&CC had not tried as far as possible
to ensure there was no encumbrances on the pavement and streets in front of the property. Instead, she said as a result of the previous court action, the M&CC had taken “practical measures” on a periodic basis to remove vendors from in front of the building. She also said the Town Clerk’s office issued periodic instructions to the City Constabulary to take action against the vendors and that ranks have been going to the area when resources and personnel are available. Nelson denied the claim that the situation had led to a loss of customers for the business and noted that the applicants had shown no evidence of financial loss.