Opposition leader hears vendors’ concerns
Sections of the world-famous straw market on Bay Street had no light for more than a year, and this has led many tourists away, claimed Irene Rolle, a Bay Street straw vendor of 50 years.
“Many refused to come off the ship because they were told the market is too dark [and] they are going to be robbed, raped, and all sorts of different things,” Rolle claimed.
The irate vendor said because of the lighting issues, she had to purchase personal lights to ensure that her booth could be seen by potential customers.
Rolle was expressing her concerns to Opposition Leader Phillip “Brave” Davis. He visited the local straw market on Wednesday, hoping to offer his support to those vendors whose goods were confiscated last week by the Straw Market Authority for alleged non-payment of vendor fees.
The vendors welcomed Davis with open arms, and he told them that he had been informed by the former chairman of the market, Kevin Simmons, of their mounting concerns.
“We are advised that some of the vendors were delinquent…and their goods were apparently ceased and without any further notice just dumped,” Davis said.
“We would have thought that the manner in which to deal with these things is to talk with these vendors. There is a need to recognize that the straw market is the kernel of the tourism industry.”
Earlier this week, Vice President of Communications for the Straw Business Persons Authority, Rebecca Small called on Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and [Works] Minister Desmond Bannister to assist the straw vendors.
She stressed that the focus of the Straw Market Authority is misplaced, and their priorities are in the wrong place. She also claimed that they are doing a terrible job with the up-keep of the facility.
Esther Thompson, President of the Straw Business Persons Association said the needs of the straw market are great, but the issues of vendors must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Also speaking in support of the vendors, President of Th Bahamas Trade Union Congress Obie Ferguson said that he agrees and supports the views of the vendors.
“If the vendors and tourists are unhappy, then the industry is under a threat,” he said.