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August 17, 2012
‘Leave us alone, we ain’t troubling anybody!’- vendors

Vendors who ply their trade under the Grenville Street gallery in Kingstown differ as to what steps should be taken going forward, as efforts intensify to have them moved from that location.{{more}}

While some of those vendors located near to the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise say they are willing to move if an alternate location is provided, those situated on the opposite end of the gallery, near to the Bedford Street branch of the Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) say they will not move, as they are being politically victimized.

Most of the persons who spoke with SEARCHLIGHT say that they have been in the area for years, and are wondering how come, all of a sudden, there is a need for them to vacate the area.

Shoe repairman ‘Putty’ Dopwell, who says that he has been under the KFC gallery for about 10 years, told SEARCHLIGHT that he does not see why he is being asked to move after all these years, but if a new or better spot is provided, he has no problem moving.

“I never had no problem with nobody saying they cannot pass, but lately I hear Boyea saying that people say they can’t pass; and I receive a letter saying that we gotta move by the 19th.

“If the authority force me to (move) I will, but otherwise I have no intention of moving, because I don’t have no other means of surviving. I need to pay my bills, I need to eat like everybody else.”

Dopwell said that he does not think the market is a good place to go, because most persons are reluctant to venture into the facility, which was built in 2000, to house vendors, most of whom are on the street.

“The market to me is like a dead zone. I like to be outside because you exposed to the people right here. Most of the times people will come here, but they would not want to come to the market to do business.”

Another vendor who did not want to be identified, said that a promise had been made a long time ago, for street vendors to be relocated in the market, but no move has been made to make that promise a reality.

“When they get somewhere for me to go, I will go, but right now me ain’t moving… We feel bad (about moving) because we selling under here a long time over four years and she (KFC manager) come and say move from under the gallery, and go where?” the vendor asked.

The vendors on Grenville Street told SEARCHLIGHT they don’t believe that they are hampering the operations at arguably the most popular restaurant on the island, but agree that as long as a solution is provided, they would be willing to relocate.

That is not the view of the vendors situated at the gallery outside the BOSVG, Bedford Street branch, who continue the sale of their wares, despite being removed by police last week, and ‘No Vending’ barricades being placed at their location.

The vendors believe they are being harassed by the authorities, because of their political affiliation, and say that they have been operating there for years without any incident.

“I feel it look more political than the public say they want free flow of traffic, because… we were told by Town Board when we set up here the size of tables we should have; they told us not to block the glass; so I bought a cot and dropped it below the glass, they told us to be on one side of the street and we complied to all what they say. We were here over how many years now,” one vendor lamented.

“As long as we comply to the Town Board, what they should do is come walk around and see if anybody else vending on the opposite side, because the market can’t hold everybody,” she added.

Another vendor said that one of the persons who sells under the gallery was given a ‘heads up’ that action was about to take place, and was advised to relocate her trays because of her political alliance, before the others were asked to vacate the area.

The vendor said that there was nowhere else for them to go, and they should be allowed to remain where they were, as long as they abide by the rules of the Kingstown Board.

“The solution: leave us alone because we ain’t troubling anybody,” she proclaimed.