President of the Straw Business Person Society Esther Thompson is lamenting the eviction of several straw vendors from the stalls in the new providence Straw Market and is urging the government to return those vendors to stalls they have held for years.
Thompson does not know how much arrears are owed but says vendors received notices in late February, urging that they bring their arrears below $200 or face eviction by March 30th. Thompson says the cost to rent a stall is $37.63 of the 500 vendors in the straw market, she says 223 are in arrears and some have already been locked out. Thompson says many vendors just cannot afford to catch up because many days some vendors make no money. Thompson went on to say “we had a meeting with the minister and one of the things I asked for because of the financial state of the vendors, I asked in the letter for a year of waiver from the rent to give them an opportunity to bring relief to the vendors, to give them an opportunity to pay their national insurance and come current, come in compliance. The Minister’s words to me were, “if they can’t pay the rent they are going to have to leave”, we have a whole list waiting to come in and we have really taken offense to that.
A concern for vendors was also the lack lighting in the Straw Market and the heat in the Straw Market that prevents tourists from fully exploring. Thompson says vendors have spent their lives building the industry but feels they are not respected. She says another issue for vendors is that they need regulations which vendors made, but says each person who comes on to run the facility interprets them in a different way. The helper rule is interpreted that my daughter cannot come to my shop unless she registered as a helper and only one person can register as a helper. I have quite a number of daughters and if they come here the compliance officer will say you can’t be here. They will come and they will literally run your child from your shop.