The unfair treatment of business people at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay

Dear Editor,

Please permit me space in your paper to comment on the recent pronouncement by the competent authority with respect to the closure of Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay as a measure to help us in our fight against COVID-19.

I am aware of and appreciate, as I trust every reasonable citizen does, the need for everyone to do their part to prevent the spread of the virus by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.

However, I am perplexed as to why the decision was made to completely shut down these two dining locations, which, for the most part, are operated by small Bahamian business persons.

While I have seen firsthand some patrons at a small number of stalls are not following the rules, I don’t believe a full closure was necessary.

If some of the stall operators are not ensuring that the safety protocols are being adhered to, wouldn’t it be reasonable to shut those stalls down as opposed to the entire lot?

Further, both Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay have police stations.

Does the competent authority believe that the commissioner of police and his team of officers at these stations are incapable of properly policing these areas when it comes to the fight against COVID-19?

I often wonder if the powers that be view the business people at Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay in the same manner in which they view the owners of other restaurants and the major fast food establishments.

The stall holders contribute to the domestic economy by purchasing products from the local food stores and vendors, fishermen and farmers; employing many, paying business licenses, VAT, and other taxes.

One only has to visit Arawak Cay on a day when the gates are locked and individuals are directed to park elsewhere (oftentimes in areas not visible to the watchful eyes of police officers).

Patrons have to walk to the respective stall of their choice, even when parking is available in the main area.

The reason often given for locking the gates is ‘traffic control’. However, there are three major fast food establishments located a short distance west of Arawak Cay, whose drive-thrus quite often cause major traffic congestion.

Where is the need for the traffic control in this case? I have never seen police officers causing any disruption to these business operations to alleviate such congestion. Why the disparity in treatment?

While the closure of Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay may be seen as a tool in the fight against this pandemic, it will no doubt benefit others in the food business.

As a side note, both Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay are located on valuable pieces of real estate.

Could the constant ‘targeting’ of these establishments (even before COVID-19) be a part of a bigger plan? Could it be that these small business owners simply don’t have the political connections and influence as others do to see to it that their interests are protected?

It is my sincere hope that the business persons of Arawak Cay and Potter’s Cay who are capable of adhering to the safety guidelines, are allowed to resume their business operations sooner rather than later.

Torez Hanna

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