Vendors plying their trade along sections of the highway could soon have designated areas from which to operate.
Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said Government was planning to launch a pilot project in the coming financial year to establish safer and healthier conditions for highway vendors.
Lashley said while Government was not seeking to deny anyone the opportunity to make an honest living, there was a safety concern that needed to be addressed.
As a result, he said both Cabinet and the Town & Country Planning Department had given the nod for the establishment of “a small number of vending facilities” for roadside merchants.
“That is one of the projects that hopefully we are seeking to launch in this financial year. We have some monies allocated for that. This is a project I am excited about because again we are not only creating employment opportunities, we are also keeping the mandate that we would have signed on to, that is the mandate of road safety and other safety measures,” Lashley said today in his contribution to the debate on the Appropriations Bill, 2016.
The minister did not give details of the project but disclosed that the pilot would take place at Graeme Hall, Christ Church under certain conditions, including the provision of culverts for proper water run off and a suspension of operation between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
In support of the move, former Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development Denis Kellman highlighted the contribution of highway vendors to the economy and the fact that they were selling locally produced items.
“The solution to our problem is not how well we can bad-mouth someone, but how you can find the solution to the particular problem. That is why this Government has identified and allocated areas and a ministry to look at it,” said Kellman.
He said a feasibility study done some years ago found it would cost about $3,500 for one vendor to be outfitted with a clean and safe facility from which to operate.
“I am saying that we have to recognize that these people are persons too,” said Kellman.