With the January 3, 2017 deadline now expired, vendors who operate at the River terminal say they are still in the dark about their pending relocation.
The move, which was originally scheduled to take place last November 6, is to facilitate construction work on Phase 2 of the Constitution River Terminal Redevelopment Project.
However, the vendors, who had earlier complained short notice and the likely impact of the move on their businesses, said they were still awaiting word from the Ministry of Transport & Works on its plans for them.
A spokesman for the vendors told Barbados TODAY Friday afternoon several attempts had been made to get information from the Director of Transport Alex Linton. However, up to Friday afternoon no official communication had been received on the relocation.
“We are not putting up a resistance as to not wanting to move. All we are looking for is that the proper allocations and locations be identified,” explained Robert Maloney, communications officer for the Barbados Association of Retailers Vendors and Entrepreneurs (BARVEN).
Maloney said BARVEN remained committed to working with Government to come up with the best possible solution for its members.
However, he was adamant that proper procedures and processes had to be followed.
“We don’t want it to be problematic,” he said.
However, some vendors said they were still not looking forward to the pending move, which comes as a serious inconvenience for them, and would also need to get fresh permission in the form of licences from the Ministry of Agriculture to sell produce.
“I feel the people should really have an on-site meeting so all parties could speak pertaining to the [move]. These things does happen in higher places and when they put it to the people the decisions are already made,” said one fruit vendor, who gave his name as The Grape Man.
He said while it was easy for him to move, relocation posed a serious risk to some other vendors.
“I’m a fruit vendor, it don’t be difficult for me because I can always operate around everything. But for people now that selling clothes and . . . other things, now that have to set up . . . that’ll be really hard for them,” he said, pointing out that his business has moved 15 times in the past.
Vincent Smith, who has been selling clothing and accessories in the River terminal for almost 11 years, was also anxious to find out “what is really the plan”.
“This is people livelihood, this is how people feed the families,” he told Barbados TODAY.
Following a tour of the terminal last November Opposition Leader Mia Mottley had suggested that Government should be made to foot the entire relocation bill for the vendors who had been given a ten-day notice by the Ministry of Transport & Works to move their businesses by November 6.
“You cannot take people who have been working here 19 years, 20 years, 22 years, give them ten days’ notice and then tell them, ‘the cost is at you to move’. It is unacceptable and it is wrong and it sends a signal of two Barbadoses,” Mottley had argued at the time.
However, in responding to Mottley, Lashley had pointed to the findings of a recent report compiled by the ministries of health and environment, which he said indicated that the terminal was in a “deplorable” state and in need of urgent attention.
“The report in a nutshell is saying that the entire area needs to be redesigned to ensure that the public’s health and safety is taken into consideration,” the minister had said.
He said the report also highlighted problems of inadequate space, lack of running water and provision for waste water disposal, the absence of toilet facilities for food handlers, and insufficient garbage receptacles in the facility, which was built in the 90s.
Efforts Friday to reach both Lashley and Linton for further comment were unsuccessful.