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Plp Sparks Row At Straw Market

By DANA SMITH dsmith@tribunemedia.net A VISIT to the Straw Market by PLP leaders descended into chaos yesterday as a heated row was sparked between vendors. A few who announced themselves as FNM supporters questioned the motive behind the PLP visit, calling it "political", while the others accused them of jealousy. One quarreling vendor had to be pulled away from another by her colleagues as shocked tourists and shoppers looked on. Some party officials seemed taken aback by the reactions as the market is commonly thought of as a PLP stronghold. Party chairman Bradley Roberts, deputy leader and MP Philip "Brave" Davis, and Fox Hill MP Fred Mitchell were invited there on "fact-finding mission" after receiving complaints from vendors about problems in the market, according to Mr Mitchell. Elizabeth MP Ryan Pinder was also there, but not a part of the official delegation. Flanked by PLP figures, vendor Laverne Crawley, vice president of the Straw Business Persons Society, said malfunctioning toilets and vendors still waiting for stalls are two of "several issues and concerns that are still not being addressed." She said vendors were told the bathrooms are suffering from a "structural issue." "We're told that they have a holding tank. The tank for example has 100 gallons of water, they're reserving 80 gallons of the water in case there's a fire and 20 to assist with the toilets. So around one or two o'clock, everything is backed up. It's clogged up, backed up, and we have no persons really dealing with it." Ms Crawley also said as many as 30 vendors are still waiting for stalls, calling it the "main issue." "They are saying that there are no more stalls available and we believe that there are more stalls available," she said. Following her interview, vendor Celestine Eanes, president of the Straw Vendors Advancement Association, insisted on speaking to the press "on behalf of the grateful vendors". "We realise we might have a little problem with our plumbing, yes of course, but that has been rectified. I want to thank the Bahamas government publicly for allowing us ... we are not getting wet anymore in the rain and it's been a long time coming," she said. "We were under the tent for at least about 15 years, if I can remember correctly. "The PLP was in power for five years - they draw a plan which went to naught. "They did nothing within five years and it's a crying shame that they just come now to see about the people. Where were they all the while? "It is political, this is a political move this morning." She added: "The Prime Minster of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas - which we call Papa, send a man to be stationed in here so that our concerns can be heard and rectified right away." These comments were met with both raucous jeers and applause. It wasn't long before vendors identified which political party they supported and started arguing among themselves. One woman said of Ms Eanes: "All she has to do is tell the FNM to come see about they people." Another woman shouted out: "They are late again. PLP, you are late again. Papa done got it, we straight. "They didn't check for the Straw Vendors when they was in power, we don't need them now. Late again." Vendor Velma Thompson said of the row: "After the PLP ministers came in here, the FNMs have a problem with that - that's basically it. That's how they carry on." Another vendor, Tiffany Smith stated: "The PLP done take it by storm, honey. You can't see the bell already rang? PLP all the way. They are jealous of us, the FNMs are jealous of us." Ms Crawley appeared confused by the loud disagreements, speaking to the press, again, in the middle of the confusion. "I don't know why the situation had to turn out like this," she said. "The PLPs in the Straw Market are very grateful to the government of The Bahamas, we are dealing with concerns and issues - not politics."

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