Despite receiving threats to her life, San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett has renewed her call for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to rescind a decision by San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello to allow vending on High Street - the city’s busiest thoroughfare. The plan went into effect on Monday.
In an interview yesterday, Bartlett said a man, who is unknown to her, entered her businessplace on High Street and threatened her in the presence of staff and customers.
“This man, who I have never seen before, came into my store and threatened me and said like we only want business people to live and not vendors,” she said. Bartlett said the man was led out of the store by another person but returned later and issued the same threats. She said he was the led out by her store’s security and never returned.
She said the man told her he was not a vendor but had relatives who were vendors in San Fernando. Bartlett said the decision to allow anyone to sell on the streets would also encourage the criminal elements to mingle with bonafide shoppers or pose as vendors and look for opportunities to engage in criminal acts.
“I maintain that street vending is illegal and we should not condone illegal things,” she said, adding, “I am calling on the Prime Minister to intervene in this situation before businesses on High Street have to close down and send home their workers.”
She was responding to an announcement by Regrello at last Wednesday’s statutory meeting that vendors would be able to ply their trade between Penitence and Short Streets for the Christmas season.
Regrello said they would be allowed to use the drainage area at the edge of High Street and not occupy the pavement, or block the entrances to legitimate businesses, for four days a week. The vendors would be charged a fee of $500.
“You did not consult with the business community, you consulted with people who do not pay taxes. So what you are saying to us is you want to kill our businesses because when these people come there and block the area, how are shoppers expected to come into the legitimate business places?” Bartlett asked.
“We are people who employ people. We have not sent home any workers yet, we are holding onto them because the salary they get means a lot to them.
“It has been extremely slow and we had hoped to see some increased sales because we do have commitments to meet at the end of each month and the overheads are high so we thought in December it might perk up a bit.”
Bartlett said “prime property” outside Carnegie Library had been transformed into a “ghost area” after the introduction of new traffic regulations recently.
“That is what he is using our prime street to do. That street is made for cars to pass and to ease the traffic but you have made that area into a ghost town where it is now like a mini-market to sell bhagi and bodi and caraili and doubles. And since he is serious about having his pedestrian mall, he should locate all of the vendors to that area and charge the $500 fee,” she said.