Merchants within the Vendors’ Square downtown are growing increasingly incensed at the alleged failure by the zone’s management to address critical concerns.
The tenants of the St John’s Development Corporation (SJDC) said for years they have requested that shelter be erected for the area at High and Thames Streets but their demands have reportedly fallen on deaf ears.
The issue came to the fore yesterday when a severe downpour damaged many of their goods.
“We are pleading with St John’s Development to provide a shed because we don’t get business whenever there is rain and the sun is also damaging our stuff,” said one of the tenants in the square for the past three years Edwin O’Garro.
O’Garro said estimates were drawn up around three years ago for a possible structure to shelter the area but the SJDC responded that it could not afford such a building.
The renters also want the booths repaired to prevent frequent leaks that result in damaged goods.
The vendors said they are fed up of years of talking that they believe has not resulted in any positive results for them.
“Every time the rain comes we get wet down,” said Yvonne Joseph, who was sitting in for her sister who has been operating in the area almost five years. “The roof of the sheds are leaking. We go to the SJDC; all the time we complaining and have meetings after meetings.
She added, “We are paying our money to the association and they need to look after us and all we tell them is dash a shed over the area and they fail to do that.”
The merchants said they pay a standard rate of $287.50 per month for use of the huts. Joseph said that calls for help are continually met with unreasonable responses.
“They say we are supposed to bring estimate and if we could fix our booths ourselves that would be good and that would help them because they don’t have no money, but we pay our rent,” Joseph said.
Another vendor at the location, Lauren Floyd, said they are stuck in a lose – lose situation.
“When it rains the tourists have to leave from us and go back on the other side,” she said. “We can’t make any money in the rain, for the sun the things change colour and we have to throw them out, so we lose out both ways.”
At the time this newspaper visited the area, traffic to the site was minimal with only one prospective buyer browsing the spot. This offered a strong contrast to Heritage Quay, which was bustling with activity with at least two cruise ships docked.
Trader Maureen Joseph said proper care and facilities are vital for the area.
“Don’t care how we try to make complaints about management, about this, they don’t do anything,” she said. “Whenever rain comes, we sit inside and see water running inside the booth. Last month I lost 16 suits, among other things. It’s not right.
“None of us in here comfortable because of the condition with water coming in and wetting up the stuff and we have to end up throwing it away. We need proper help and we need proper facilities.”
Several of the traders revealed to this newspaper the poor state of their booths and their goods, many of which were still soaked from a heavy shower yesterday morning.
There are 17 booths in the Vendors Square, 16 of which are currently rented.
The St John’s Development Committee said they are unable to respond to this newspaper on the matter until their corporate communications manager returns from vacation in September.