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BARVEN members seeking answers, meeting with president

Sheria Brathwaite

BARVEN members seeking answers, meeting with president
Some BARVEN members have questions for president Alister Alexander, but say they are unable to get an audience. (Picture by Sandy Pitt)

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Some disgruntled members of the Barbados Association of Vendors, Retailers and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) held a press conference this morning to highlight a number of grievances.

Camille Stuart, spokesperson for a group of 40 financial members of the BARVEN market, which is a subdivision of the association, said they tried to have an audience with president Alister Alexander regarding the issues, but to no avail.

Stuart said the vendors collectively reached out to multiple Government officials but when they realised their concerns were not getting off the ground, they decided to hold a media conference in the hopes that some form of action could be taken to address the issues.

Some of the issues include:

  • The closure of BARVEN market Cheapside space without any notification or clear reason.
  • The move to the BARVEN market along the Mighty Grynner Highway was not voted on or held in any democratic way.
  • Longstanding members of the BARVEN market Cheapside space were not given their entitled spaces and no explanation as to why; about 15 members were refused spaces.
  • The subscription fee increased from $10 in the old market to up to $75 in the new market, and as a result, about 30 vendors stopped selling produce there.
  • There is no clarity as to the status of the owners of the old BARVEN market space in Cheapside.
  • The BARVEN market board told members that the organisation was changed from a non-profit without any explanation and members are now required to pay a fee to run the organisation and there is no information on where the money would go.
  • The autocratic decision making without following procedures outlined in the BARVEN constitution.

Stuart also made reference to the recent situation where about 20 vendors were displaced as a result of the erection of a fence at the Cheapside van stand. She said those vendors, in addition to those who could no longer afford to pay the fees along the highway, would be setting up their stalls at the former BARVEN market in Cheapside.

The spokeswoman said that if the vendors came together and played their cards right, they could operate in a way that was compliant with the COVID-19 health protocols.

The press conference was held inside the old BARVEN market and about 20 vendors attended the event. (SB)