Official Opposition Leader Philip 'Brave' Davis.
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government has agreed to pay $2,300 to each of the 23 straw vendors in George Town, Exuma who were left “devastated” after the market was destroyed by fire in April, according to Deputy Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis.
The payout will total $52,900.
In his budget contribution, which was sent to the press last Wednesday but never read in Parliament, Mr Davis said the loss incurred by individual sellers as a result of the fire, according to vendor claims, range from $2,800 to $120,000.
He also said the declared average earning was $7,000 for 2013 and $8,000 for 2014. However, Mr Davis said two vendors declared earnings of $30,000 and $15,000 in 2014.
“Given the precedent set by government in the aftermath of the Nassau Straw Market in 2000, I am pleased to announce that this government has approved the grant of $2,300 to each of the 23 vendors claiming losses due to the fire at the Straw Market in George Town, Exuma,” Mr Davis’ statement said.
“For this major cooperative undertaking, I commend and thank the (Straw Market) Authority and its partners. For Exuma, the vendors may not, at this time, have all that they want right now, but the essentials for commerce are in place.
“As we rebuild, vendors and all (of) Exuma can be assured of the full commitment of government – not to restore what was - but to build for Exuma, a better, modern, and well-deserved Straw Market.”
Mr Davis also said a decision was also made to establish the Straw Market Authority/Exuma Straw Market Reconstruction Fund at the Bank of The Bahamas. He said the signatories to the account would be the chairman of the Straw Market Authority, president of Exuma Christian Council, and Exuma’s chief councillor.
All donations to the relief effort will be channelled to that account.
Fire Chief Superintendent Walter Evans previously said the fire was the result of an “electrical short circuit.”
He said that as a result of the short circuit, the “entire wooden setup” was ignited, completely destroying the structure.
Supt Evans also told The Tribune that on the night of the fire, officials had no fire truck to combat the blaze. He said officials had to use a truck from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation as well as an airport crash/fire/rescue truck to fight the fire.