The Saint Lucia Vendors’ Association has praised Castries Mayor, Peterson Francis, following a ‘very cordial, productive and positive’ meeting on Monday at which several issues affecting the vendors were discussed.
Vendors’ Association President, Peter ‘Ras Ipa’ Isaac told St Lucia Times that Francis agreed to look into all the issues that were raised when the association executive met with him.
One of those issues related to a requirement that vendors in the provision market pay to use toilet facilities there.
Isaac disclosed that at the ‘groundbreaking’ meeting, the Mayor gave a commitment to stop the payments.
“He feels just as we do that people occupying booths there should not be paying monies to use the lavatory facilities,” the Vendors’ Association President stated.
He noted that vendors had complained that when tourists are also asked to pay to use washrooms, it affects business.
“The tourists sometimes say : ‘Well okay, we are not paying. We don’t want to pay. We will go back to the ship and use the facility on the ship.’ So it is not good for us in terms of business,” Isaac explained.
“We think it is bad to have someone come into your business place and after they have spent some money and they want to use the washroom you are asking them to pay,” he declared.
Isaac said the Mayor promised to look into the matter.
He told St Lucia Times that Monday’s meeting also discussed the ‘vexing’ issue of ‘retrofitting’ booths belonging to vendors.
“It is almost like a slavery kind of thing – it takes almost two hours to pack all these goods, then in the afternoon you have to put them back up into a locker at the back of the Vendors’ Arcade,” the Vendors’ Association President stated.
He said the Mayor promised to work with the vendors to remedy the situation.
“All he is saying is that he wants this thing to be more uniform – not everybody trying to do their thing in their own way,” Isaac said.
He revealed that the executive of the Vendors’ Association also discussed the matter of Value Added Tax with the Mayor.
Isaac has in the past, accused the Mayor of attempting to ‘silence’ him because of being very vocal on issues affecting vendors.
The accusations came after the Vendors’ Association President was charged earlier this year with stealing electricity at the arcade and using insulting and threatening language.
“On the question of the litigation – we said ‘If we are going to work together and we are going into functional cooperation together with the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office, there should be no hurdles over our heads as the President of the Vendors’Association’ and what they said was that they were going to look into that and we will deal with that – the whole question of the litigation, in a different forum,” Isaac explained.
He expressed appreciation for the move by the Mayor’s Office to have dialogue with the vendors.
“We appreciate that although we have had a very combative relationship with councils in the past, it has never been so estranged – but today we find it has come to the senses, the way it is supposed to be and we say: ‘Hats off! We are moving on.'”
“We are very optimistic about the relationship,” Isaac told St Lucia Times.