Tenants and SJDC row over conditions at vendors mall

Tenants at the Heritage Quay Vendors Mall are demanding an improvement in the conditions where they are paying rent to ply their trade. Lawmen forced vendors to move their souvenir shelves, tables and chairs out of the street. Vendors contend they were given permission by the St. John’s Development Corporation to be on the street.
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Disgruntled tenants of the Heritage Quay Vendors Mall said they are growing fed-up with their landlord, the St. John’s Development Corporation (SJDC).

Police officers instructed vendors to take their shelves and tables out of the public road yesterday. But, vendors told OBSERVER media that they were given permission by SJDC to occupy 12-14 inches of the narrow road.

“It is just disrespect on the part of the Corporation, and I’m very upset with them because we sat in a meeting with the chairman and all of the managers who suggested that we can stay on the road, but within the boundaries of the yellow line. Now, all of a sudden, the police come and tell us we need to move or they are going to lock us up,” Consuela Samuel said yesterday.

When news cameras caught up with the agitated vendors outside the mall, they voiced numerous concerns, including poor maintenance of the stalls they continue to rent monthly.

There are 94 tenants registered to ply their trade at the vendors mall, and congestion is one of the “major” problems highlighted yesterday.

After complaining “for some time” about the unmaintained stalls, poor ventilation, woodworm-eaten cupboards and lockers that are broken and can no longer be properly secured with locks, the vendors contend the Corporation is trying to stop them from making a living.

Vendor Julie Martin said she suffered at least two break-ins because she was unable to secure her stall properly due to broken doors. Martin said she is open only when cruise ships are in port.

The vendors said the conditions have caused cruise passengers to totally avoid going beyond the sidewalks. They claim that the poor conditions are the reason they occupy the sidewalks in the first place.

“If the Corporation had a change of heart, then they could have come back to us. We are not dogs. We are their tenants and they could have called us and tell us what was going to happen,” Samuel added.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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