While the Kingstown Town Board (KTB) has implemented a prohibition on street vending, and officials have been conducting daily sweeps of the city, some persons have been using ‘creative’ ways to get around the prohibition.
A SEARCHLIGHT team spotted seven vendors on the streets up to the afternoon of Thursday, December 8, who were using supermarket trolleys and wooden carts to ply their trade along Bay Street and Bedford Street.
Most declined to be interviewed; however one male vendor who requested anonymity told SEARCHLIGHT he considers the move into the market to be financially disadvantageous.
“We just out here to get a quick sale. To go in the market nobody ain’t coming in there to buy.”
Another male vendor told SEARCHLIGHT, the officials of the KTB have been conducting daily walk-throughs and informing vendors that if they are caught selling on the streets, they will be removed by force.
To circumvent this, he said, vendors are “not resting down nothing”, but rather are selling goods and produce from plastic, reusable bags, or from their bare hands.
During the month of November, the KTB carried out an aggressive clean-up project, aimed at removing all vendors from the streets and relocating them into two newly-built vegetable markets located on Bay Street. Vendors registered in the Kingstown Central Market were ordered to return to their stalls, while weekend vendors were relocated temporarily to the car park operated by the KTB.
After the markets were officially opened on November 17, the KTB intensified its efforts to clear the streets, instructing vendors to remove all tables, benches and other structures from the streets as of November 26.
By Monday November 28, the markets were filling up and by the following day, the side walks and streets were vendor-free, except for a small group who refused to comply with the KTB directive.
Up to Tuesday, December 6, Town Board officials conducted an exercise to demolish a structure just outside the Kingstown Fish Market. That action drew a crowd to the area where tensions between members of the Special Services Unit and onlookers quickly escalated.
A video of the incident posted to social media shows an officer physically assaulting one woman and Town Board officials intervened to quell the dispute.