EDITOR, The Tribune.
The pop-up market Tin Ferl was created by a group of young Bahamian entrepreneurs who saw the need for the development of a pop up space where local food vendors and artisans can access a space to sell their products. During the interview, chef Jamal Petty a vendor at this location questioned whether or not the food park was shut down on Thursday, October 9, because it was in breach of the COVID-19 regulations as was stated by the Commissioner of the Police, or was it the result of “special interests” whose business interests may be adversely impacted by the presence and growing popularity of this group.
Mr Petty is right in his assessment that there exists in the country individuals who because of their wealth and privilege of being special interests, are in a position to influence policy decisions that can lead to what is alleged to have happened.
I believe there is at times a deliberate attempt via policy decisions to stifle the growth of some businesses in favour of others. I have written before that I suspect that this is a major reason why the business persons at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay are treated so flippantly by the powers that be.
What is even more troubling to me is the police force is used to carry out these excessive and arbitrary orders in a manner that seems to be more of a weapon to harm and intimidate businesses, rather than to enforce the rules. This in my view undermines public confidence in the police force and in the long run negatively impacts their ability to foster a healthy and trusting relationship with the wider community.
If as was suggested, Tin Ferl was in breach of the COVID-19 orders or some other regulation, why was this just discovered as they have been open throughout this period of emergency?
Given the need to balance the health and economic welfare of the country as highlighted by the Competent Authority, and considering the fact that most fast food restaurants and others will be allowed to operate, does it make sense to close these businesses at the pop up market?
I believe that in a progressive society if there were any defects with licences and/or a breach of the emergency order by these young entrepreneurs, it would be better to allow these individuals to cure the same as oppose to shutting them down. Further, when one considers the amount of culinary specialists currently unemployed throughout The Bahamas, a progressive government would seek to partner with these young persons to create other entrepreneurial pursuits and endeavours.
If it wasn’t so troubling, it would be laughable that the day before the Competent Authority in his address to the House Assembly encouraged young entrepreneurs to be creative during these weekend lockdowns by writing songs and creating T-shirts for sale, only to witness the following day action taken which stifles the businesses of young persons.
I must note that before the end of the show on Friday it was announced that a statement was released by the relevant authorities advising that Tin Ferl would be allowed to operate on Tuesday, October 13. Notwithstanding this, I urge Mr Petty and his fellow vendors to take this decision with a grain of salt as I suspect it was made to silence the group. I believe that if Mr Petty didn’t appear on this show and make such a strong presentation this decision would not have been taken.
I hope Mr Petty and the alliance of vendors proceed with plans to create some form of a political action committee. I encourage them to reach out to the business persons at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay, gym owners, and others who are experiencing similar challenges. I share the view as articulated by Mr Petty that they are in a position to get strong political messages out through their ability to display signs in their businesses, and/or the wearing out T-shirts (the irony), etc.
Sadly, this may be the only way our public policy makers will respect such businesses in the same way they respect foreign investors and the wealthy special interests among us.
TOREZ B HANNA
October 10, 2020.