A Heritage Quay vendor is crying out for some help after claiming she has been unfairly treated by the St. John’s Development Corporation (SJDC) regarding her booth at the recently refurbished vendors’ mall.
The woman who called into OBSERVER radio this past Friday, and who did not give her name, said that she is a mother of two children, and an Antiguan and entrepreneur, who is being denied the right to earn a decent living.
“I [was] a vendor before the building was constructed. I am not a fly-by-night vendor, and I am also an Antiguan and I think that I am being treated very badly by my government and the people who are in authority because they are not doing anything to help me. You cannot try to put me in a corner where I can’t be successful and that is what they are trying to do,” she said.
She explained that prior to last year’s renovation at the peak of the cruise tourism season, she was occupying one of the larger booths, however, when the renovation was completed, some vendors occupying the larger booths had to downsize because there was an inadequate number of large booths so not everyone could have been accommodated.
The vendor said that she agreed to take a small spot since she was made to understand that she would have to wait one month, until January 2018, for a bigger location.
It has been six months and the vendor, of over a decade, said that when a spot recently became available she was overlooked.
“I am one of the only vendors who did not get a space because I had taken a temporary location inside the Heritage Hotel, most of the vendors were relocated to Commissioner’s Grill. It was very disgusting down there; they had faeces down there, and rain and mosquito problems,” she said.
Allowing her colleagues to be relocated first, the vendor said that she decided to “go on the back burner” so the other vendors could get out of the unsanitary conditions.
She further said that the promise of additional booths have not materialised.
The woman said that she has spoken with the prime minister, the government minister responsible for SJDC, and the executives of SJDC, to no avail.
She admits that she did not support the renovation, specifically because she felt the time was most inappropriate.
The vendor added that she understood that renovations were needed since several of the booths were termite-infested and in need of much repair.
“Up to this day I cannot get the space I was supposed to be getting,” she concluded.
Efforts will be made today to contact the SJDC concerning the vendor’s frustration and plea.