Confusion in the Market Square

As government continues to struggle with the vending dilemma the administration is forced to break rules established for the proper running of the market.

Regulations designate the Square as a Spice and Vegetable market – suggesting in its name a specific purpose.

But when street vendors were forced into the market last month, among them were merchants trading in clothing and other general items.

The rules also say that no open flames are allowed but that too has been given some slack to accommodate persons selling roast corn, casualties also of the police crackdown.

The Ministry of Works continues to maintain its silence, refusing to make any public statements on the situation affecting markets tenants and customers.

Esther Thomas, who is in charge of public markets, would only say that she could not discuss existing rules as government was in the process of making changes.

The changes are expected to make provisions for the new types of businesses now being allowed to operate in the market square.

Michael Baptiste, a spokesman for the vendors on Monday delivered a petition, signed by almost four hundred persons, demanding government take action to address their concerns.

He confirmed that government has ordered tents and will be modifying some of the booths to accommodate more people.

The vendors protest is centered around poor market conditions, the charge for washroom facilities and the lack of adequate space.

THE NEW TODAY understands that there is no immediate plans by the current regime for an expansion to the St George’s Market.

The process for planning and sourcing funding is a lengthy one and according to a source the Ministry of Works does not intend to undertake such a project at this time.

After the 2008 Elections, the National Democratic Congress ordered a crackdown on illegal vending, drawing protest from then opposition leader Dr Keith Mitchell who was highly critical of the NDC move, accusing them of pressuring the poor man.

During his protest, he called on Peter David, the Congress Government MP at the time to find a proper solution to the illegal vending situation.

A decade later, David is again MP for the Town of St George but under Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) regime and facing the same problem of what to do with the vendors.

A source said that before squeezing the vendors into the market space, government was considering utilising the NIS Car Park and the Old Police Band Yard on Melville Street.

Vendors confirmed that a representative of David came to inform them that this is what was to happen, though it never materialised.

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