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Designate vending spaces in City


RANDY BATSON

Designate vending spaces in City

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WITH YOUR recent editorial on the subject of illegal vending in Bridgetown and the focus on the legal responsibilities of those who would ply such a trade in the capital, and Rollins Howard’s recent letter which touched quite clearly and in a well written way on other facets of the issue, it would appear not much can be added to the discussion.

However, I venture to say that if there is an imperative to clear up the streets of the main commercial part of Bridgetown, it should be grounded in a well-defined and well-articulated policy and fairly and transparently applied strategies for the management of the sector.

Certainly, as Barbados heads towards its 50th anniversary of Independence, and with much touted aspirations of the country becoming and being seen as a developed nation, there can be no strong argument for allowing vending in The City to look the way it did in 1966, which one is inclined to argue it still does.

Vending has been a hallmark of Bridgetown virtually since its inception, and it should continue to be a feature of the space, not only as a means of providing employment, of course, but because it’s part of the charm, at least in principle, of the local World Heritage Site.

However, it is precisely because The City has that designation, with its implications for heritage tourism-driven economic growth, that the disordered and aesthetically unattractive form which vending currently takes cannot be allowed to persist.

Like other issues such as the public transport system and squatting, hard decisions have to be made as to a new way forward.

Certainly, again these are not issues unique to Barbados, and though we have our own distinct culture and values, the wheel does not have to be reinvented in terms of finding workable humane solutions to these problems. We can take guidance from other jurisdictions, tweak where necessary and implement as soon as possible: even if the transition to a new paradigm is painful.

Therefore one would wish to echo calls for the reintroduction of vending space at Fairchild Street, perhaps a large covered well laid out area, with appropriate signage, beautifully, but simply landscaped, properly managed by the relevant agency.

A survey to determine the size of the vending presence would be carried out to determine allocation needs. Thereafter, people wishing to vend in The City will have to be in the designated market spaces, with a zero tolerance policy for vending on the streets and bridges, a health and safety hazard for sure.

The message would also have to be communicated to the populace that they can and should continue to support the vendors by finding them in the said spaces.

– RANDY BATSON

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