By LEANDRA ROLLE
VENDORS at Potter’s Cay Dock yesterday expressed continued frustration with authorities over ongoing concerns at the dock, calling for government officials to find an immediate resolution to their complaints.
Numerous concerns raised by stall holders recently have included “militant” policing by officers, insufficient lighting, parking policy changes and lack of action from the government to resolve the problems at the site.
These issues, as suggested by vendors, are considered key reasons for a major decline in business at the site.
Speaking during a press conference held at Potter’s Cay Dock yesterday, President of Bahama Docks and Allied Venues Association Dwaine Bastian said the various concerns of vendors have been falling on deaf ears.
“A lot of vendors here on Potter’s Cay Dock are hurting and a lot of people’s kids can’t go to school because no moneys are making and it’s like no one cares,” he said.
“This supposed to be the people’s time so at least look out for your people and make sure that Bahamians are first. Right now, we feel like hurricane victims because we need someone to just come and hug us and hold us and say that there is hope.”
Another vendor expressed similar sentiments.
Proprietor of Banks Fresh Fish and Conch, Edward McPhee, said: “For the past few months, the vendors on this dock with the exception of a few have been suffering tremendously. The government stated that it’s because of the parking that the crimes are happening, but parking don’t do crimes.”
Police officers began enforcing a government policy disallowing parking in front of stalls at the dock earlier this year after two men were shot and killed in a double homicide at Potter’s Cay on May 8.
Yesterday’s comments from irate vendors came almost two weeks after they protested at the dock, calling for the removal of the dock manager, Gregory Minnis.
Many reiterated their concerns about Mr Minnis yesterday, calling him unprofessional.
In fact, spokesperson for the association Wendi Constantine played a voice note of Mr Minnis’ threatening vendors if they attempted to contact the media.
“This is what we’re dealing with. This is the type of characteristic traits of this manager that we’re dealing with and that’s why we’re asking for his immediate removal. The relationship has deteriorated to the point of threats,” she said.
When contacted by The Tribune for comment, Mr Minnis said he has since apologised for his remarks.
“It was done in a heated moment and we’ve already dealt with that matter, so I don’t why (vendors) are bringing that up because they are being very hypocritical. They know that we are trying to help them… so I don’t see why they keep creating an issue,” he said.
However, Mr Minnis was not the only one criticised by members during the press conference.
The association also responded to the statement released by the Ministry of Agriculture in response to their demonstration.
The ministry said in a statement last week: “Any concerns that vendors may have should be communicated to and dealt with by the manager and, whenever appropriate, advanced to the ministry’s senior management.”
The ministry also reiterated that parking is no longer allowed in front of stalls because doing so disrupts the steady flow of traffic on Potter’s Cay and creates safety concerns.
Vendors, however, considered the statement to be highly misleading.
An attorney for the association, Andrew Allen, said: “The story that we’re told in that extremely misleading statement is incorrect. The reason for these changes is obviously to pressure the vendors and the patrons. Somebody has formed the view that having too much business out here and having too many Bahamians coming out to enjoy themselves is the problem.
“We believe that it is incumbent upon the ministry to at least force this matter to the point that the manager responds to the membership and if necessary, the minister responds to the membership over these concerns.”