CASTRIES Street vendors affected by what appear to be a unilateral decision by Mayor Peterson Francis to remove, from their usual storage places, the furniture they used to sell their wares and relocate them to the Marchand Market could be filing claims for damage and missing property.
The move by Francis, which was conducted on Mother’s Day, last Sunday, riled vendors to the point that they staged an impromptu demonstration in front of Francis’ office on Peynier Street, Tuesday morning protesting the decision and demanding, among other things that he stepped down from office.
This is one of several moves that have pitted Francis against vendors and their president Peter “Ras Ipa” Isaac since becoming mayor in August 2016.
However Francis’ most recent action seems to have infuriated the vendors more than previous actions as was indicated Wednesday when they took to the airwaves during the lunch hour to really speak ill of him and some of his policies.
Isaac has called on affected vendors, especially those who claimed they cannot find their trays, benches, tarpaulins and other bits and pieces of furniture taken away by Francis, to list their losses and affix a monetary value to the list. Make three copies of that list, one for the vendor, one for the association which represents them and one for the mayor’s office.
The list should be in letter form calling on the mayor to reimburse vendors if on inspection of their belongings at the Marchand Market they are found to be damaged or missing.
According to Isaac, Francis made his move without prior consultation with or notification to the St. Lucia Craft and Dry Goods Association of which he is president.
“That’s the problem I have. We have had meetings with him (Francis) he never said anything about that. He said he put (notification) in the newspaper, television and on radio but that does not suffice,” Isaac said, explaining that with vendors hustling throughout the daylight hours hearing such notices or reading them would not be possible.
“The vendors had no warning that the property they used to sell their goods from would be taken by Francis on Sunday and parked in the Marchand Market,” Isaac said.
He explained that vendors are tenants of the Castries Constituencies Council of which Francis is the mayor. Further that the CCC should either have written to the vendors or have a short meeting with them to inform them of the removal of their furniture from their original place of storage.
But Francis is having none of what Isaac is saying, even going as far as denying that his move to relocate the vendors’ trays, metal frames, tarpaulins and such was one-sided. He claimed that the move was agreed to by Isaac at a meeting between them.
“Behind doors Mr. Peter Isaac agreed with us. Every time something happens he calls his supporters,” Francis said, going as far as saying that the vendors must get rid of Isaac if they want proper representation.
Isaac said that vendors are contributing to the country’s economy therefore Francis should not have done what he did without consultation with them.
“The following day (Monday) Francis was going around looking for places where vendors could store their stuff. That is putting the cart before the horse. I went with him on Monday and told him he cannot do these things that he has to consult with people first,” Isaac said.
According to Isaac, Francis has now identified a place in the Castries Market to be retrofitted for vendors to store their trays, tables and whatever else they may have.
Vendors who have removed their property from the Marchand Market are currently storing them where they usually store them at the end of their work day, until otherwise.