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(SNO) — In light of the eviction of coconut vendors from the Gros Islet Highway by the Gros Islet Constituency Council (GICC), Opposition Leader Philip J. Pierre is proposing a system of controlled vending for them.
He agreed that vending along the busy thoroughfare created some measure of concern and there should be need for monitoring but questioned whether eviction was the best option.
“I thought to myself whether the matter could not be handled differently by a government that was more friendly to the people or to the small business person,” Pierre wrote on social media. “On our fortieth anniversary of Independence what better gesture could it be if our government had initiated a system of controlled vending by the issuing of permits to a limited number of vendors dressed in national colours vending in an orderly manner?”
Concerns have been raised over vending in the area and a compromise was reached to have the vendors relocated to Bois D’Orange, Gros Islet.
When the vendors refused to move, the GICC placed no-vending signs along the highway and police subsequently showed up in the area to enforce the orders of the Council.
But Pierre questioned the actions of the authorities.
“I asked myself whether eviction was the best option even if they were moved to another site where the UWP government had wasted millions of tax payers earnings,” he wrote. “I pondered on the thought that these people were locals with a commercial idea and had found a convenient market (a place where buyers and sellers met ) to trade and distribute their produce. I am sure that families depended on the returns of that trade to feed, clothe and house themselves but the property owners and other users of that busy area also needed to be protected. I understand that instructions for removal came from the highest political level.”
He stated that as a country, Saint Lucia has with good intentions “provided an enabling environment for foreign investment and either spent or forgone revenue in doing so for the benefit of our economy”.
“Why can we not create the same platform for our locals this time our coconut vendors?” the opposition stated. “It’s only a government that has confidence and trust in our people that will dialogue with them and not make them the first to be affected or displaced any time there is need for adjustments.”