There is currently a sort of impasse between the market vendors in Belmopan and the City Council. This is a situation that has been unfolding for over a week now when businessman, David Zabaneh proposed the idea to use his private property to house the vendors. It may or may not be a bad idea but there are many factors at play here including possible loss of revenue for the council as the vendors currently pay a fee for their stall at the showgrounds. In a release from the city’s Area Representative, John Saldivar, he reminded the public that the management and regulation of market spaces are solely within the purview of the Belmopan City Council. It is on that basis that he has rejected the way Zabaneh and the vendors are going about the relocation. This morning the vendors began setting up on Zabaneh’s property just across from the Social Security Board, but that movement was blocked by police officers. Our newsroom has been following this story for over a week now. Cayo Correspondent Fem Cruz was in the area earlier today and spoke with Zabaneh.
David Zabaneh: “I’ve been in negotiations with the mayor and some withe the council but my appeal to the mayor is see how we can expedite the process to get these people out here, the longer they stay at the showgrounds the harder it becomes for them to stay in business. You know location is key in any business and this location is excellent not just for the vendors but for the community as well and the people that come into Belmopan. We’re not here to cause trouble, the police they’re here to maintain law and order and we respect that which is why the officer in charge or the officer that came out he said no one can do any sales on the property as far as they know according to City Council regulations so there’s no doubt that they were probably sent by the council or I don’t know someone else. I’m in support of the people. They want to work. We have honest hard working people, I know they might not get the support that they need because a lot of them live in the surrounding villages and they bring in their veggies and their stuff to sell from surrounding villages but we have Belmopan vendors as well and they do provide a service to the community. So we have the facilities in place you know hand washing stations, garbage bins, we have the porta potties to start and our plan is to improve on the property but what we’ve given them I can safely say is much more than what they had before at the Civic.”
Also commenting on the developing situation was PUP’s Standard Bearer for Belmopan, Oscar Mira. According to Mira the vendors should not be blocked from making a living despite regulations and pending meetings between Zabaneh and the council.
Oscar Mira, PUP Standard Bearer for Belmopan: “Whatever issues the developer and the City Council have I think they should legally discuss and they should come up to an agreement but that is for them to do. Why I’m here is because I support all of those vendors that you see outside. Those that want to earn an honest living, those that are waiting to come and work, they’re not begging anyone. They want to come and work because they have bills to pay. In these difficult financial times I think that anything to spur economic activity in the City of Belmopan is welcomed and the developer and City Council need to ensure that their issues are ironed out, that is them to do but I am here in support of those vendors who want to work and who are out here waiting for an opportunity.”
Our correspondent spoke with several of the market vendors who expressed their desire to be relocated. In an interview yesterday with Belmopan Mayor, Khalid Belisle, who explained the issue with the revenues.
We will keep following this story.