“This is our livelihood” is the outcry of vendors on Old Parham Road as they plead with the government to reconsider a decision to relocate them.
The government has proposed to move vendors around St John’s to forthcoming purpose-built facilities at East Bus Station.
It comes amid plans to “make sure that vending always happens in vending approved zones,” explained Minister of Housing, Land and Urban Renewal Maria Browne this week.
“The Development Control Authority (DCA) under my Ministry will be the one who regulates the areas for vending, the types of units or booths that are used for vending, and we find that more and more have been popping up in non-vending approved zones whereby they cause a risk to the traffic, obstruction of the highway and that sort of thing,” she told state media.
But vendors along Old Parham Road told OBSERVER that their current sidewalks spots are preferably because they are easily accessible to passersby.
“This is our livelihood. This is where we come to make our daily bread and it’s easily accessible. We are not blocking anybody. The sidewalk is still available. People can easily turn in, turn off the road and park comfortably. We like this spot,” one woman remarked.
A man shared similar sentiments. “We’ve been coming here for maybe a year now. It’s an ideal location for us. We don’t have a structure here, we just come with our tent and at the end of the day we leave but the point I am trying to make [is that] I don’t see any obstruction of no traffic,” he said.
And a disheartened woman told OBSERVER media that it is already difficult making a profit selling goods on the street.
“It breaks my heart to move because I don’t have somewhere else to sell and it’s really slow on the road still, but it gonna slow more,” she shared.
However, a snack seller claimed he could sell anywhere. “It doesn’t matter if they put us out on the water, we’ll sell. You put us on Boggy Peak, we’re gonna sell more,” he said.
Minister Browne also disclosed this week that failure by the vendors to relocate will result in fines, after legislation is passed.
“Seeing so much vending popping up all around this year, DCA will actually be proposing to impose fines because, as it stands now, according to the Physical Planning Act and the regulations underneath, there are actually no fines so there is really no deterrence per se,” she said.
Minister Browne said the penalties would not be “extortionate” but would be enough to deter trade in no-vending zones.
Late last year, the Government began putting measures in place to improve the aesthetics of vending areas.
According to the Minister, government has already acquired land in Jolly Harbour to use as a designated vending area.
In addition to a vendors’ park at East Bus Station, a major vending area will also be built at West Bus Station.