Urban Development Unit hosts forum to discuss street vending issues in Basseterre
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Urban Development Unit within the Ministry of Urban Development hosted an open forum June 12 for street vendors and key stakeholders to discuss challenges faced by both in the capital.
“We all recognized that there are challenges regarding street vending,” said Director of the Urban Development Unit Rhon Boddie. “Challenges to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic and challenges by the vendors themselves. So, we thought it best to have this forum to get an idea as to what challenges are faced by the vendors and stakeholders and to inform them about what we are going to do as a possible solution to these issues.”
Boddie explained that the solution will be carried out in phases, but the grand solution is still in the works. In the first instance, a registry will be created for vendors to document what they sell and their current location. In addition to this, the Urban Development Unit has devised a plan to move vendors who sell from food trucks.
“We plan to create a small food court at North Square Street on a property that belongs to the government and have these truck vendors park there instead of around town, especially around the Independence Square,” he said.
One of the plans put forward by the Urban Development Unit was to have Liverpool Row, between College Street Ghaut and Shear Lane, blocked from vehicular traffic and set up what will be termed “vendors alley,” where spaces will be issued to different vendors to sell in that location.
The director shared that there are also a number of challenges faced by the stakeholders. “We had the police who expressed their concerns with regards to vehicular traffic and pedestrians speaking about vendors who take up the sidewalks,” he said. “The pedestrians have to walk in the street, which causes an issue for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic.”
Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism spoke about nuisances that can be created from vendors in various unfavourable locations around the capital. Also, there was representation from the Environmental Health Department, whose concerns were the preparation of food and the possession of a food handler’s permit, among other things. The Solid Waste Department expressed concerns about the disposal of waste especially patrons who do not properly dispose of their items.
Boddie expressed that he was pleased with the turn out of the vendors. “In fact, we had a packed house,” he said. “They did express their feelings from wanting to know first and foremost if they have to move where they would have to move to.”
The director noted that one of the surprising thing that came out of the forum was both the government and the vendors coming to an agreement that there must be a measure of control on street vending. “I expected that to be more from our end, but it was highlighted more from the street vendors end – that was a positive in my opinion,” he said.
Representatives from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, along with Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd, and senior staff of his ministries were present at the forum.