The man seeking to take the Christ Church South seat from Minister of Health John Boyce is raising a stink over the conditions in which vendors at Oistins Bay Garden are forced to operate.
Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate Ralph Thorne, QC, has described the condition as a disgrace, and has called on the National Conservation Commission (NCC) to re-evaluate its contracts with the vendors.
The operators said the conditions were deplorable and unsanitary, with food operator and customers subjected to mounting garbage, overflowing drains, scampering rodents and foul odours.
Thorne, who toured Oistins Bay Garden this afternoon, accused the NCC of breaching the contract it had signed with the vendors, while arguing that as owners of the allocated spaces it was the Commission’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its tenants.
“It must be an implied term of the contract that if you are renting a place . . . if you are renting a facility that is providing food to people and that business is being hurt by unclean surroundings then the NCC is breaching its contract,” the fledgling politician said.
Thorne contended that the NCC should not be demanding payment from operators for such sub-standard facilities.
Considering that Oistins has remained a premier tourism attraction, the senior attorney-at-law contended that the current conditions were a sign of disrespect by the Freundel Stuart Government, and Boyce in particular.
“The irony is that the representative for this area here is the Minister of Health and the minister next door [Dr Denis Lowe] is responsible for the environment and the NCC, and this [Oistins Bay Garden] has become an environmental hazard,” Thorne charged.
As he spoke from Crystal’s Bar and Grill located at the back of the popular tourist hub, rats could be seen running across the road. Pools of water also settled in the environs, highlighting the poor drainage system.
Michelle King, the owner of Crystal’s Bar and Grill, said the vendors had been appealing to the NCC for over three years to clean up the place, but their cries had repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.
“The customers are not coming down at my place, Crystal’s Bar, because they are complaining about the smell. Some of the customers come and when they sit, they call for drinks and when they get the smell of the drains they ask for the bill and they get up and leave,” said King, who has worked in Oistins for nearly 20 years, and who insisted the facility was in dire need of industrial cleaning by the NCC.
“They said not to wash down but they have wild fowls, the birds around here and you have to clean the place. The drains overflow and nobody comes to clean the drains.
“It has been going on for a very long time now; it is overbearing and we can’t handle it anymore,” she stressed.
Crystal’s Bar supervisor Renee Boyce, who has worked there for 18 years, described having to serve customers while rats ran around at her feet, and spoke of blackened bathrooms in desperate need of cleaning and walls plastered with urine stains.
“You don’t want to stay and eat in a place where you can’t swallow your food, your belly burning you or your stomach burning you. It need to be fixed and it need to be fixed right now,” an outraged Boyce said.
“We need help in this Bay Garden, we need the minister to come out and . . . we need to get the problem solved,” she stressed.