Vendors protesting three day closure

The management of the Port Lucaya Marketplace have allegedly scheduled a temporary closure of the Straw Market for cleaning and maintenance, during the arrival of a Carnival ship to the island, that is not sitting well with vendors. At left is a copy of the alleged memo, vendors said they received. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Picturesque beaches and the warm hospitality of the Bahamian people are key reasons cruise ship passengers love visiting the islands of The Bahamas.

Lately, Straw and Craft vendors in the Port Lucaya Marketplace have desperately fought to earn a living and with visitor arrivals to Grand Bahama being very low, the announcement of the Carnival Dream coming to port is certainly welcomed news.

The Freeport News has recently been informed that vendors in the Port Lucaya Marketplace are deeply concerned about a memorandum issued on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 by the Entertainment and Marketing Manager Sheena Miller, which states, “In our efforts to improve our Resort Shopping Complex, preparations are being made to pressure wash and paint the Lucayan Straw Market and the Caribe Craft Building.

“Arrangements have been made to pressure wash the Lucayan Market and the Caribe Craft Building, Thursday, July 20 at 5:00 p.m., vendors are required to close their business no later than 4:00 p.m. sharp!”

Further along in the memorandum the vendors were advised to secure their inventory to avoid any damages and paint repairs is expected to commence July 24 - 26, 2017 thus requiring all booths to remain closed during that period.

Both the Straw and Craft vendors noted that they understand repairs must be made.

They claimed to have sought to negotiate with Miller to have the repair work commence on Saturday, July 21 - Sunday, July 23, 2017 thus avoiding a loss in income due to the three-day closure.

Straw and Craft vendors who wish to remain anonymous outlined their feeling in the matter to this daily stating, “The Carnival Dream is scheduled to dock in port on Thursday, July 27, 2017 not only is it one of the largest ships in the cruise line fleet, it only stops in Grand Bahama twice a year.
“We are beyond grateful to have the Carnival Dream coming to port, as we believe we will have the opportunity to interact with visitors to the island as well as earn a few sales, which we sorely need.

“As straw and craft vendors in the Port Lucaya Marketplace we appreciate every visitor to our booths and we simply cannot afford to have our facilities closed over the course of three days prior to the Carnival Dream’s arrival.”

The vendors alleged that they implored Miller to “kindly” reschedule the time of the pressure cleaning and painting, but she refused to do so.

“This is completely unfair to us as vendors, especially, as we have booth rental, mortgages, school fees and other bills to pay hence we cannot be shut down for three days.”

The vendors maintain that their pleas are being ignored by management and there is no reason why pressure cleaning and painting should force the closure of their operations especially as in times past such repair work was carried out in the evening hours on Saturday and Sunday or during the slowest period of the year, September.

Claiming that since the inception of the Lucayan Straw Market and the Caribe Craft Building none of the vendors have had to close their booths; everyone is questioning why such action must be taken now?

The Freeport News telephoned Miller to speak to the allegations lodged by the vendors; however, this daily was informed that the entertainment and marketing manager was out of office.

This daily also placed calls to her mobile, which also proved fruitless up to press time.

Frustrated by the ordeal, the vendors said, “There are no activities available for the tourist to enjoy and those who do visit the Lucayan Straw Market and the Caribe Craft Building enjoy sitting and chatting with us as well as watching the vendors plait straw, cut and design T-shirts, hand carve wooden statues and walking canes as well as make shell and beaded jewelry.

“So to close us down to conduct simple repairs has got to be unconscionable. A number of businesses that carried out renovation and repairs did not shut its doors, ways were found to work around the people … so they conduct pressure cleaning, painting and repairs, during the slow period and the company posts signs that apologizes to the public for its appearance as work goes on to improve the aesthetics of the business.

“So please tell me why is there such a push against us in the Lucayan Straw Market and the Caribe Craft Building, who are simply asking for the same “ingenuity” to be used.

“Many days we hardly are able to eke out a living and yes vendors were given a discount on their rental fees from $100.00 monthly to $81.00 until October due to the low visitor traffic.

“We the vendors have reached out to those in government for intervention in this matter and while initially our attempts proved fruitless, eventually we received communication from Deputy Prime Minister K. Peter Turnquest, who promised to immediately work to negotiate on behalf all concerned so that an amicable compromise would be reached,” vendors alleged.

The Freeport News also reached out to Deputy Prime Minister Turnquest for insight in the matter; however, up to press time those efforts proved fruitless, but sources close to this daily have revealed that an amicable resolution is expected to derive from a closed discussion between Miller, the deputy prime minister and the vendors so as no one is left disenfranchised.

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