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DNA rallies stricken businesses from road works

Shastra Manning says she didn’t want to make it a political issue. But when it comes to the survival of her business, the road works disaster has left her with no choice.

The assistant manager at Rita’s Beauty Salon on East Street is one of many entrepreneurs lending her voice to a cause that is rapidly growing into a chorus of frustration.

“I’d say we have lost 60 percent of our business since the median and construction came up on the road,” Manning told Guardian Business. “We feel very alone and the government has not given us any feedback or attention at all. We are the ones that put them in office and we’re the voice.”

The appeal comes as the DNA held a press conference yesterday focused on how the road works are impacting local businesses.

Branville McCartney, the leader of the DNA, said the party must act as the “brother’s keeper”.

“Let us not forget these people, those who have been laid off, those businesses that have closed their doors for good – we must support one another,” he told the crowd. “The  biggest retail season is opening up, but these people have already lost thousands, and in some cases, millions of dollars.”

The party unveiled a four-point plan to help assist the struggling businesses, which included launching an investigation on the economic impact of the New Providence Road Improvement Project, considering a discretionary fund for businesses that have been affected, the use of state resources to help them and providing proper directions for detours to maintain a steady stream of customers to the stakeholders.

Manning felt the latter was particularly relevant for Rita’s Beauty Salon.

“The customers weren’t aware you could come around through and back again. We could have informed our customers of how the median would impact us. They could have come from the opposite direction,” she said.

Adding that it’s a matter of “sensitivity”, Manning pointed out that Rita’s has been around for around 34 years on East Street, although it has functioned under a different names over the years.

“We were here from the get go,” she said.

“We want to see the government come forward and at least give us an opening in the road and access so pedestrian traffic can come back and forth. We want them to show us that they care.”

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