Straw market ‘should be’ open by Christmas
The new straw market should open by Christmas, according to the undersecretary at the Ministry of Public Works & Transport, with the matters now out of the department’s hands as “higher level” approvals take place.
Elizabeth Keju, the executive in charge of administrative matters for the site, said responsibility will soon shift to the board and managing director for the new straw market.
“I believe you will see something happen soon and the government will make an announcement on that,” she said.
“We are just waiting on the government to do final administrative clearances and a board to be appointed. And once that happens they can do ahead with the operation of the new market. It should be open by Christmas.”
The opening has certainly been a long time coming for vendors.
In 2001, the original straw market was burnt to the ground, forcing hundreds of vendors to seek refuge in a make-shift tent. This site suffered considerable damage after the passage of Hurricane Irene, forcing many merchants to set up shop on the warf.
In September, Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes toured the finished product. And yet the site has remained unoccupied as rules, regulations and administration sit with government officials.
Winston Rolle, the chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, told Guardian Business “we haven’t heard anything” about the opening of the new straw market.
“We’re actually waiting to hear as well,” he said.
“I know there were one or two forums where we were engaged in the process with the rules and regulations. Since the committee continued it’s work, we haven’t heard anything back.”
Rolle added that “it sounds like it’s imminent” and hoped the market would be open ahead of the busy Christmas season.
He said government officials needed to make sure everything is in place before they go ahead.
For Keju’s part, she said the ministry is prepared to phase itself out of administration for the market.
“We are making plans on our side to ensure a smooth transition,” he explained.
“We are the ones with all the records with respect to the vendors, so we have to make sure they are in place. We have done all we can do for the transition from an administration point of view. Now all we can do is wait for the approval to move in.”