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Government to Deal with Indiscriminate Vending in the City of Castries

By Reginald Andrew
Housing Minister Richard Frederick
Housing and Local Government Minister, Richard Frederick

Indiscriminate vending in the City of Castries has to stop.

This much was said by Local Government Minister Richard Frederick who on Monday said government is taking steps to deal with the situation in a more orderly fashion.

The Castries Central representative recalled that during his tenure in office, he was influential in building vending booths fort the city vendors. However, he said, during the period from 2011 to 2021 that he was not a parliamentarian and no booths were erected in the city.

Fredrick disclosed that government intends to bring about a more aesthetically pleasing presentation of the city and on a recent tour of the Castries Central constituency with Prime Minister Philip J Pierre, some pertinent matters were discussed relating to general upgrading of the aesthetics in the city.

“The vendors unfortunately create an eyesore in the city  not intentionally, but invariably that is what happens. And on Sundays, when you walk through the city they vendors leave their tools of trade hanging about and we come to the realization that we can do better as a people,” Frederick declared, at Monday’s media briefing.

He noted that government has earmarked the parking lot in the vicinity of the old Government Printery, along Jeremie Street, among other areas for rehabilitation.

Frederick said the printery building is up for demolition and plans are to construct a colorful arcade with vending booths to accommodate vendors who ply their trade in that area.

In addition, he said, PM Pierre informed him  that almost immediately there should be construction of some vending booths in that parking lot  and to rehabilitate Bideaux Park.

The Castries Central MP stated that while government has no objections to persons eking out a livelihood from their vending operations, it must be done in an orderly fashion.

He noted that it is a sticky situation in trying to reach a compromise, where there are conflicting or competing interests in this scenario.

Said Frederick: “You have the interests of the vendors, they have a right to survive, and you have the interests of business owners who have a right to use their property unimpeded and the pedestrians have a right to use the sidewalks without any kind of impediments placed on that sidewalk.”

He added, “Those are the balancing interests that we need to take a middle ground in and no one should go far left or far right.”

Towards this end, a touring party that included PM Pierre, the Mayor of Castries and Frederick combed the city streets  in an effort to find  convenient places  to accommodate  those persons who still use the parking lot.  “We shall be proceeding with due alacrity with the construction of these new vending booths,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to remove “those persons there, once and for all,” added Frederick. “After this is done, I have to send a warning to persons who have their tents in a haphazard way to stop the construction of all those little booths all over the place, that cannot be tolerated.”

The Castries Central MP contended, “It is not aesthetically appeasing, it is not something that you want your visitors to see”.

“Yes, you have a right to survive but we need to do it in a manner that  we don’t want to do it in an unlawful and sporadic way. Let’s do it in a manner that lends accord to the beautification of our city,” Frederick noted.

He said persons act on their own volition and “expect it to be embraced by all and sundry, but this cannot be right.”

The Castries Central MP recalled that there are some vendors who abuse the privileges of street vending by defaulting on their fees owed to the Castries Constituency Council (CCC).  And while they allow their children to ply the trade, they take their trays to other places to sell their goods.

To deal with the situation more effectively, he said, it will require being able to strike a balance.

“We are proceeding with due haste and in the not too distant future, the situation will at least be partially resolved and this is the way we want to proceed,” Frederick asserted.

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