Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tennants’ cry


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Shops at Pelican Craft Village owe the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC) over $1 million in rent, but tenants are pleading with the landlord to address their problems before placing the locks on their doors.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Donville Inniss heard the tenants’ concerns first-hand at a meeting convened by him and attended by BIDC chairman Benson Straker and CEO Dr Leroy McClean at the Bagnal Point Gallery on Wednesday.
The most vocal tenant Ireka Jelani, who has been operating her Roots and Grasses shop at Pelican for over 20 years, made an impassioned plea to Inniss for a write-off of outstanding rents as well as a reduction in rents “in these hard times”.
In a no-holds-barred presentation, Jelani told the minister, “It is not an easy road”, as she called for more support for craftspeople who she said had been “crying in the wilderness for years”.
“I have given it all my life” an emotional Jelani declared. “We really need to look at handicraft, we need to look at a culture centre. we know we really don’t have any money but [we have] the people resource.”
To loud applause from fellow tenants, she warned: “only the informal sector can help drag us out of these turbulent times.” Her submission was supported by Neville Hewitt, who said he had been operating at Pelican Village from its inception and had witnessed a complete change in focus and fortunes when the rustic Village was replaced by the modern designed shops.
Listening empathetically, Inniss gave his commitment to address problems enunciated by the tenants such as promotion, expansion of cultural activities and easier access and visibility. He also encouraged better communication between tenants and the BIDC.
But while expressing a willingness to work with the tenants, CEO of the BIDC, Dr Leroy McClean, admitted he was scratching his head over financing of the Corporation’s operations while trying to collect some of the $10 million in outstanding rents owed by people occupying BIDC premises in industrial estates across the island.
There are 27 shops at the Pelican Estate with about 58 tenants occupying those and other spaces there.
McClean said with government’s allocation to the BIDC being reduced more and more, having rental monies coming in was critical to the operation of the industrial estates. (GC)


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