Saturday, December 16, 2017

PoS vendors disappointed with late start


SETTING UP AT Salvatori: Workmen set up one of many tents yesterday which will be used as vending booths at the old Salvatori Building site on Independence Square, Port of Spain, as vendors get ready to ply their trade for the Christmas season. Vendors can use the facility until February 15, 2013. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Port of Spain vendors are happy to get use of the old Salvatori Building site, corner Frederick Street and Independence Square, to ply their trade this Christmas/Carnival season.

But they are disappointed the arrangement with the Urban Development Company (UDeCOTT) to facilitate them took so long. UdeCOTT owns the site.

"Last year we had it from November 6. This year is December 10. They should give us the site until they are ready for it," said Gayle Sayers, a vendor speaking on behalf of her colleagues.

Steve Fletcher, another vendor, said the group was not too pleased by the late start but they would take what they can get.

Vendors were able to set up shop from yesterday evening and will be able to stay there until February 15, the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

Between Carnival and Christmas though, the vendors say it is "horrible" trying to find a space to sell all the while avoiding getting towed by the police.

"It is hard for a vendor with a small cart to pay $1,150 fine when a car that is towed only pays $500," said Fletcher.

Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal, line minister for UDeCOTT, visited the site yesterday afternoon and met briefly with vendors and Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing.

He said the ministry was "committed" to helping the vendors and hoped the economic activity of the season would assist them.

The ministry intervened after pleas from the mayor's office, MP for the area Marlene McDonald and vendors to give them the opportunity to use the space.

Limited short term parking will also be available at the site to the public. It will experimental and if it proves successful, will likely be continued until UDeCOTT is ready to begin work on the site.

Moonilal said plans for the location include a financial complex to house local and private sector businesses and encourage economic activity in the area. Discussions are under way for a start in the new year, he said, but will likely depend on costing.

Lee Sing said he was grateful for the intervention but said the (annual) problem could be resolved once he gets approval for the pedestrian malls on lower Charlotte and Henry Streets he proposed almost two years ago.

He said Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan was in support, and as soon as he (Lee Sing) got approval from (the minister) to use unspent balances to fund the malls, he could get them under way in about six months.