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Goods Disposal Angers Straw Market Vendors

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

NASSAU Straw Market vendors yesterday criticised the Straw Market Authority’s (SMA) decision to reportedly throw away goods from the stalls of delinquent vendors.

Some sellers said the SMA should have been more lenient with vendors, while others said at the very least the goods should have been auctioned off instead of being sent to the dump.

Straw Business Person Society (SBPS) vice-president Rebecca Small particularly noted that nothing in the rulebook states SMA has the right to throw away delinquent vendors’ goods.

These criticisms are the latest in a series of complaints vendors have lobbied against the SMA over the past year, which culminated in a protest in Rawson Square in April.

Yesterday, Ms Small told The Tribune the dumpsters arrived at the downtown Straw Market on Tuesday evening.

James Rolle, a vendor, said he witnessed their arrival and claimed he asked a member of the SMA about their presence.

“I saw the truck coming with (one of) the dumpsters,” Mr Rolle said. “I asked one of the guys in the authority, ‘what y’all doing with the dumpster?’ He said that they’re cleaning up the market.

“I said ‘what you mean cleaning up?’, he said some of the stalls (where) the people ain’t pay no rent for maybe a year, a year and a half on some of them, (the stalls) went back to the Authority.

“And (the SMA) say they call them over a month ago and tell them come for their goods. So they ain’t never came for them. So they’re in the (process) of giving the stalls to other vendors who want it. So they had to clean it up.”

Mr Rolle could not provide an estimate of how many stalls were cleared out, but he said he knew there were “a lot” of closed up shops throughout the market.

Andrew Moses Armbrister, another vendor and wood carver, reiterated that delinquent vendors were given notice by SMA “quite some time ago”.

“Because what happened is these persons’ stalls were closed down, so they were not allowed to open up their shop…(because) they owed money. And that they didn’t pay,” Mr Armbrister added.

“Actually the stalls are now taken away from them. So they asked them to come for their stuff, they never came for their stuff. So I guess they get fed up and they bring about two containers last night and everything went to the dump.”

However, Mr Armbrister criticised this choice, saying the goods should have instead been sold.

“When you look at it, (they) could’ve keep them and auctioned them off or something. Instead of just throwing away…quality, good stuff.

“I don’t know if they (SMA officials) have storage to keep them in, but like I say, auction them off or something. They shouldn’t have just thrown them to the dump.

“Goods, souvenirs, straw work…Everything went to the dump.”

Regarding SMA’s current process for such issues, Ms Small said the group normally reaches out to a vendor first and if the person cannot be contacted, the organisation throws the goods away.

“If they can’t reach the vendor, they’ll say the vendor wasn’t able to be reached and so we can’t pay for storage and we (are) dumping the stuff. We have a problem with that. I have a problem with that…that they are…dumping things people paid for.”

Ms Small yesterday called for “due process” to be taken instead.

“I feel that even if they put those things out on auction where other vendors could benefit or something...it’s nothing in them to work along with us,” she added.

“You know what bothers us?” Ms Small continued, “They never have monies to do anything. But when it’s time to hire dumpster, do anything against the vendors, they always find it.”

When asked if anything in the vendors’ agreement provides for the goods of delinquent vendors to be thrown away, Ms Small said “no”.

“No. Nothing in the rulebook. Their position with this is: We are the authority, and in the rulebook it states that we are to manage, and whatever we find, deem necessary, we will do it. That’s what their position is. Nothing in the rulebook states that.”

Ms Small said SMA’s managing director told vendors that some stalls had been closed since 2014.

However, Ms Small said vendors were not allowed to get their items after their stalls were shut down.

“If the vendor owed them $800 (for example), and the vendor shop was closed, the vendor was not allowed to go back to get their stuff,” Ms Small said. “If a sign says closed, they will not allow the vendor to go and get their stuff. We know that for a fact.”

During a press conference held on July 19, the SBPS called for the Nassau Straw Market to be removed from the portfolio of Works Minister Desmond Bannister.

Less than a week earlier, Mr Bannister told The Tribune that there are vendors who have not paid rent for “three, four years.” He added that such a backlog makes it difficult for the SMA to find a way for the Straw Market to exist.

However, the SBPS board members, supported by Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin, said since this administration took office, it has “demanded” that rent arrears be $200 or less.

Attempts to secure a response from SMA officials were unsuccessful yesterday.

Comments

TalRussell 5 days, 17 hours ago

Even comrade Sir Stafford demonstrated more respect belongings Straw Vendors. This Imperial red shirts cabinet does brungs embarrassment to UBP rule... has angers Pop's son Theodore Brent.

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B_I_D___ 5 days, 17 hours ago

Dumping of the goods may have been a bit excessive...I'd say the auctioning concept had more merit. But still...pay your dang rent!!

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geostorm 5 days, 7 hours ago

Pay your rent and you wouldnt have this problem. The people called you and told you to come get your stuff. You refused so off to the dump it goes! Its about time we get serious about something in this country!

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Naughtydread 4 days, 22 hours ago

When you don't pay your car note what does the bank do? They come an collect the car right? What they do with it after that is none of your concern because you defaulted on your loan. Half of that shit at the straw market is Chinese trash anyways so it basically belongs in the garbage to begin with. If anything the government is saving you time and money. WHEN WILL BAHAMIANS REALIZE THAT YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR BILLS?

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sealice 4 days, 21 hours ago

so there's no rule to apply to the situation so we should just let the cheap made in china crap sit there while vendors who will pay their bills can't get a chance to work. The rent it ridiculously low you have a huge captive customer base and yet all you here is britch britch britch.... go to work shut up and pay ya bills like everyone else has to

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DDK 4 days, 21 hours ago

Throwing perfectly good items into the garbage is surely described as sinful in this big Christian society of ours! If indeed the items were destroyed shame on this Government. They could either have been sold to help make up the rent arrears or donated to a charitable concern.

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bogart 2 days, 21 hours ago

.....What should have happened is that seized goods....under lawful means... should have inventory taken...and then auctioned to recover any money to settle what is owed to pore taxpayers......and after monies owed....any surplus returned to vendor.....totally insensitive to destroy straw works ..merchandise...straw works helped build Bahamas tourism...witnesses...tourists...???..possible litigation now arises....if as indicated closed shop defaulters were not allowed to remove merchandise if and when told to do so and then ...merchandise seized....unlawfully.....???...without liens.....and then destroyed.....

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