Opposition leader Philip J. Pierre has said that the issue of coconut vending at Rodney Bay presents an ideal situation to find a way for ‘regular people’ to benefit from the tourism industry, without being disruptive.
Pierre spoke Wednesday evening to the HTS Evening News.
Coconut vendors were recently issued notices by the Gros Islet Constituency Council to relocate from their operating area at the roadside in Rodney Bay, to an open area near the abandoned Daher Mall building at Bois D’Orange.
Pierre told HTS reporter Rehani Isidore that the new location is not an ideal place for buyers and sellers to meet.
“On the highway you have visibility, on the highway you have traffic – even the tourists themselves enjoy buying the nuts,” he explained.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) leader told HTS Television it was clear that the new area that has been identified for the coconut vendors is not as lucrative as where they operated originally.
HTS quoted Pierre as asserting that the relocation order was avoidable and said he offered alternatives, including licenses.
“You could have a system of licenses where you say you limit six vendors very other day. So you have a pool of 36 vendors and you say you only have six for six days – that could work,” he explained.
Last week, Pierre’s opposition party expressed ‘outrage’ over the move to relocate the vendors, accusing the Allen Chastanet administration of ‘consistent oppressive behaviour’ towards those seeking to make an honest living.
“The Saint Lucia Labour Party believes that there are several young men and women employed in the Trade in the said area, and that shifting them to another location with less foot traffic is going to place them at a distinct disadvantage; and could force them into the already high unemployment statistics,” an SLP statement declared.
“In government, the Saint Lucia Labour Party actively encouraged the expansion of coconut cultivation for the expanding coconut water market. In this regard, thousands of coconut seedlings tissue culture plants were brought in from Mexico. It is therefore crucial for government to urgently address what is a rapidly expanding opportunity for vendors and farmers alike,” the statement observed.