Min. of Agriculture refutes claims of Potter’s Cay Dock vendors

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, Michael Pintard.

Encourages vendors to pay their lease fees to ensure proper maintenance of area

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources on Wednesday refuted a number of claims and also the addressed the various concerns of vendors stationed at the Potter’s Cay Dock.

As the official Opposition led a tour of the area on Tuesday, irate vendors expressed that they are being harassed, neglected and are losing business.

Last year, the government announced plans for a Public Private Partnership to develop and manage Potter’s Cay Dock. However, President of the Potter’s Cay Dock Fish Food and Vendors Association told the media on Tuesday that vendors are not on board with this idea because the government will ‘cherry pick’ who they want, thus pushing them out.

But yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources outlined in an issued statement that they have met with vendors and their associations on a number of occasions to discuss the development plans for Potter’s Cay.

The ministry said in one of those meetings, the associations were encouraged to consider forming themselves into an entity that could also submit a proposal to government as a partner.

“In any case, the criteria for participation at Potter’s Cay under a Public Private Partnership has yet to be determined, although there is the strong likelihood that preference will be given to vendors who have a well-established tenure at Potter’s Cay and are financially current,” the ministry said.

The ministry also responded to the vendors’ claims of police harassment as well as their criticisms of patrons being unable to park in loading zone areas following a double homicide in the area two months ago.

According to the Ministry, vendor participation is critical to the consultative process as it relates to the proposed project to revitalize Potter’s Cay and this why the Ministry has taken purposeful steps to restore order to that area.

“Loading zones are designated for the specific purpose of offloading supplies and services and were never intended to be utilized as parking spaces. This is not unique to Potter’s Cay,” the Ministry said.

The Ministry said the police have long expressed concerns that parking in front of the stalls poses grave safety and security challenges and the misuse of loading zones prohibits access of delivery vehicles and impedes the regular flow of traffic.

“The foregoing concerns were communicated to vendors earlier this year. Further, the parking lots east and west of the bridge have been equipped with lights and are routinely patrolled by the police,” the Ministry said.

Also responding to the vendors concerns of losing business after two murders were recorded in front of a stall back in May,  the ministry said it recognizes that small business and entrepreneurship are keys to a stable economy and they have been working on a number of plans to spark renewed public confidence in Potter’s Cay.

The Ministry said it will also work with the vendors in support of such efforts.

“Vendors have been encouraged to make repairs to and maintain their properties. The Ministry has also been working with BPL (Bahamas Power and Light) and the Port Department to bring a resolution to the issue of power supply on the dock and other improvements,” the ministry said.

Also, as vendors recommended the suspension of their lease fees until business picks up, the ministry said it will continue to encourage vendors to pay the very modest fee of less than $50 per month to assist with the proper maintenance of  Potter’s Cay.

“This will create an environment that will ultimately grow their businesses,” the Ministry said.