Fri 20th Jul 2007

Street vendors get bad treatment

The SVG Green Party CONDEMNS THE PERENNIAL TREATMENT OF VENDORS and calls on the ULP regime to treat the vendors in a more civilized manner and restructure the vending industry in capital Kingstown now.

Vending in Kingstown has existed for as long as the city existed. One recalls stories told of persons from the countryside walking from midnight with bags of charcoal and other provisions on their heads journeying to Kingstown.

There are lots of stories of jumbies and jaco' lantern surrounding these trips. Vending was always there. It is a way of life for peoples all over the world. Organising the vending industry is the job of the government of the day. A serious attempt was made during the Mitchell administration with the construction of the central market. The major problem there was the design was badly flawed and added to that, it is not customer friendly.

Recently on a local call-in programme, a passionate female vendor expressed her opinion about vending. She said vending came about because of the dead-beat dads that do not mind their children, so the single mothers are forced to find a way to survive and feed their children.

One has to look at the reasons why vendors prefer to sell on the street. They take goods to the customers. They capture sales that they would normally not get had they not been on the street. It is convenient too for the customers as they avoid climbing up the stairs of the central market to purchase the same items.

This industry has quadrupled within recent years and has exposed the gross inefficiency of the ULP regime in addressing the ever-growing unemployment and crime situation in this country. There seems to be no coherent economic plan in place to utilize the vast human and natural resources available for real economic production and growth. The ULP regime, after 6 years in office, seems unable to solve any of this. The party that seemingly had all the answers on the eve of the past two elections clearly has no effective answers. They are out of control as far as getting the economy working in a positive manner.

Taking vendors off the street permanently will surely fuel the increase in hardship and poverty. The fallout of this will certainly be disastrous. The ripple effect of the lost commerce and income will slow down trade and some children will not be able to go to school. These children may well go hungry and domestic disputes will increase. This government needs to become aware of the dangers of allowing this pestering problem to go unattended for much longer.

The ULP regime has brought in a law to make street vending illegal. So, rather than supporting street vendors, in their wisdom, the ULP regime has turned these low-income people into outlaws.

The street vendors are shining examples of entrepreneurs. They have taken the initiative to try to make money and their enterprising skills are to be admired and praised. SVG Green Party fully supports the vendors' initiative to earn a dollar and feed their families.

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