Swan Street vendors tell of broken promises
In spite of all the promises made to vendors by the current administration, all we have seen is the marching feet of members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, says President of the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs, Alister Alexander.
He expressed this concern today while speaking to vendors on the corner of Swan Street and Lucas Street in the City.
“Again I repeat we are about law and order. In order for us to get things done there must be dialogue. The Royal Barbados Police Force made contact with BARVEN early last week requesting a meeting but they took action before the meeting was convened. I think that we should not continue this type of behaviour towards each other. I will not ask my people to oppose the police because police are part of us and equally so we are part of the police. The political directorate must be held responsible for this continuing state of chaos that arises in vending. It is not vending, it is that we cannot sit down properly to dialogue to bring this situation to the point where we want to be,” Alexander said.
He gave vendors the assurance that the Association will continue to advocate on their behalf and he argued that the current economic turbulence gives them the opportunity to stabilise the society.
“We play a tremendous role in the economy and the society of this country that needs to be recognised. We hope to roll out soon a document that will address all of the challenges within vending,” Alexander disclosed.
Meanwhile, Keann Walters, who formerly owned Celebrity Babes Boutique, but who now sells on the street because she could no longer afford the rent, explained that this was all about vendors feeling the pinch when the police come and scatter us.
“I understand order but some people are trying to make it look political, but it is the cry of the people. This is a democratic country and therefore we have to speak when we have issues like these. The issue right now on Swan Street has to do with vending and certain store owners not being able to advertise their goods on the outside of the buildings that they are paying high rents for. If it is a situation where some of the vendors are not observing the law, then we need government to assist us in observing the law. They will have to issue more licences and new licences. We have a situation where a lot of people are losing their jobs and a lot of people will take up vending to support themselves and their family. We need to have the licences to avoid this problem with the police,” Walters explained.
Walters pointed out that the government was not providing the answers to their economic problems therefore they have to create jobs to support their families and themselves.
“We want to be within the law. So if we want to be within the law help us. Give us the necessary permits so that we can ply our trade. I recognise that a lot of the store owners and vendors say they were going to support the organisation, but when the time comes they fail to turn up. We need to come together as a group. We have BARVEN on our side and the association has the expertise and the know how so that we can send the relevant letters to the government. We need to act collectively, because we cannot do it individually,” Walters argued. (NC)