Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, and officials from the Ministry toured Bridgetown earlier today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The days of vendors walking to and fro through Bridgetown to replenish their trays with produce when it is sold off could soon be coming to an end. 

Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, has signaled his Ministry’s intention to have discussions with the police about issuing special parking permits.

He gave this undertaking today during a press briefing at the end of a working tour in Bridgetown, where he and the team heard the challenges that confronted vendors plying their trade on Swan Street and Marhill Street.

“There are some things that we are going to reach out to the police to get their cooperation.  There are some people who bring their produce down from the country in a vehicle and park.  Obviously you set up your tray, but the vehicle needs to be near-by for when that tray is empty you have to replenish your stock.

 “You can’t have that man walk a mile through town to come back in order to sell again so we need to have some special parking permits and that is a discussion we are going to have to have with the police,” Mr. Symmonds emphasised.

The Minister was accompanied by acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Small Business, Kay Sealy; other officials from the Ministry; President of the Barbados Association of Vendors and Retailers, Alister Alexander; Head of the Bridgetown Revitalisation Committee in the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Eddie Abed; and officials from the Small Business Association.

Mr. Symmonds said Government was trying to resolve some of the issues that confronted vendors for decades. He disclosed that the Ministry was in the final stages of discussions on the proposed Vending Legislation to empower vendors and to give them rights in certain circumstances.

“If a vendor for whatever reason has to be moved from a location, that person would have to be consulted, that person would have to have the benefit of making sure that his goods are not damaged and if they are damaged by the police or whoever moves the produce, then that person would be entitled to compensation.  So, we want to give them a body of rights and treat them as business people in their own right in a way they have not been treated or empowered before,” Mr. Symmonds outlined. 

The Minister also alluded to the creation of special zones for vendors that would allow them and their customers to shop and operate in comfort. Mr. Symmonds argued that it was unfortunate that some vendors, especially coconut vendors, were operating along the highways without proper bathroom facilities or running water.

 “We have to do better than that, not only for ourselves as Barbadians but we want it to be a tasteful product for tourists when they start to come back here,” he said.

Mr. Symmonds also promised to address issues of ventilation in the Vendor’s Market on Marhill Street through discussions with the Minister of Agriculture.

He also announced that he would be working closely with the BCCI’s president, Trisha Tannis, to ensure that everyone earning a living in Bridgetown is adequately accommodated.

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