Vendor squalor must be controlled
Downtown commercial areas are ever evolving. Customers move from store to store and businesses maneuver to lure them in.
The straw vendors are a major presence in our downtown. These merchants have been without a permanent home for a decade. The old market was destroyed by fire in September 2001. Hurricane Irene destroyed the temporary market – for the most part – in August this year.
Since then vendors have been set up along Woodes Rodgers Walk in large numbers. They await the opening of the new straw market, which has been built for them by the current Free National Movement (FNM) administration with public funds. It is scheduled to open before the end of the year.
Since Irene, vendor stalls and shacks along the wharf have expanded significantly. Lined next to each other, the stalls have displaced the taxis at certain points. Those taxis now park in the middle of the street, as the vendors have taken the sidewalk.
The area is now overpopulated and unattractive. The gateway to our cruise port should not resemble a shantytown.
We understand that vendors need a second temporary home. Hence, they have been allowed to stay on the sidewalk. What must not be allowed is for a large presence to remain in overcrowded conditions at that location, in makeshift structures, once the new market opens.
This may seem like an inconsequential issue. But, it is not. In The Bahamas we are experts at allowing small temporary presences at sites to explode into problem zones we have difficulty regulating. The dozens of Haitian shantytowns across the country are examples of this.
When the government moves vendors into the new market it should decide who remains on Woodes Rodgers Walk. If the answer is no one, then those who set up structures there should be given a reasonable amount of time to remove them. If not, they should be pushed down and disposed of.
If coordinated action is not taken with these temporary structures, the majority of them will remain. Smart vendors would get a stall in the market and keep what is allowed outside.
Downtown has enough problems the government and business leaders are trying to fix through the Downtown Nassau Partnership. We need not allow this problem, which is small now, to get out of hand.
Traffic police helping at Eastern Road
Traffic police officers have kept up their presence at Eastern Road in the mornings. The traffic congestion along Eastern Road in the mornings is a longstanding problem for residents of the east.
Police have recently been assisting by monitoring the flow and directing traffic at certain points of the busy road. This helps, as there are no traffic signals on the road; and we doubt that traffic signals would help the problem.
Simply put, there are too many cars trying to exit the east on too few uncoordinated roads.
The police Traffic Division has helped, a bit, the weary residents of the east. We hope it continues to do its best in difficult circumstances.