It looks like BARVEN could soon be getting its upgraded market at Cheapside. And if Minister of Small Business Donville Inniss has his way, vendors who ply their trade in The City facility would not need permits to do so.
Inniss’ message of hope was delivered to scores of vendors and members of the Barbados Association of Retailers, Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN) in the market yesterday.
His comments came after BARVEN had hosted a CARIFESTA fringe event, which included a street parade from Independence Square to Cheapside, and then cultural presentations from members of the St Lucia delegation.
Inniss revealed that his ministry would be providing the finance to refurbish the dilapidated, unsanitary stalls in the temporary facility. He stressed that vendors and vending were integral parts of the micro and small business sector.
“Gone must be the days when those who seek to make an honest living in our midst are shepherded off the streets and shepherded into back alleys in some very seemingly unkempt circumstances.
“That is no way to treat our people and that is why I propose to Alexander that we will start, as a matter of urgency, to look at providing physical improvement for you here at BARVEN in The City,” the minister said to loud applause and cheers from those present.
Inniss added that any attempt to revitalise the island’s capital city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, must include a vibrant vending community.
He said others had spoken about revitalising Bridgetown with upgrades of large private sector-owned buildings and through improving its road network, its lighting and drainage.
However, he noted nothing was said of including “our average men and women known as vendors and the vending community” in the revitalisation talk.
“I believe in any society, in any city in particular, vending is a magnet that draws people towards exploring the city. And it is rather unfortunate that Bridgetown has been allowed to drift and to go in the direction that it has gone to.
“And that is why this living heritage must indeed be given that respect and my ministry certainly proposes to provide the resources, as a matter of urgency, to commence work on improving the BARVEN facility here in this location,” Inniss said, as he revealed that Alexander and a team from BARVEN and a team from his ministry led by Bertram Johnson had been in discussion on that issue and others relating to the sub sector.
“We speak oftentimes about licensing of vendors but I hold the view that once the facilities have been provided, we need to perhaps start to disabuse our minds of people having to get a licence for everything. I’d rather vending be one that is open air where individuals can come and ply their wares.”
The BARVEN Temporary Market at Cheapside was supposed to be a three-month stopgap measure for vendors who were moved in 2006 to make way for the BTI car park.
However, a decade after Cricket World Cup’s conclusion, the vendors were still awaiting a permanent facility with Alister Alexander, the president of BARVEN, calling for something to be done about the lack of security and the unsanitary conditions in the market.
Article By: Heather-Lynn Evanson
The Sunday Sun August 27th, 2017