Wednesday, April 24, 2024

AWRIGHT DEN: I blame vendors, police

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WE MUST BE VERY CAREFUL the standards and precedents we set, especially those that inform social behaviour and practices. We must also be prudent, fair and consistent in the administration of law and policies so people don’t feel targeted, victimised and unfairly treated.

On Wednesday, June 1, an article was published in the MIDWEEK NATION titled Bridge Vendors Ordered To Move. To be honest, when I saw the title, I just shook my head and kept turning the pages. It was only on Tuesday this week that I decided to read the article because I felt a need to write about the situation.

For those who didn’t read the article, it basically said that vendors on the Charles Duncan O’Neal Bridge and at the entrance of the Fairchild Street Bus Terminal were given an ultimatum to move or be moved by police. The instruction was given to those who were in breach of the law by blocking the pathway as well as those who didn’t have a licence to sell in that area.

Three days later, the SATURDAY SUN carried an article headlined Police Order Vendors To Move. In the story, vendors stated, as they did in the previous article, their disapproval of being forced to move. What was consistent over the two articles were the cries of vendors that this move was to stop the “poor man” and the “black man” from making a dollar.

This situation is not a novel one and in my opinion will occur again in the next two years. We have a problem in this country with the consistent and fair administration of the law and also respecting and following it. Vendors are fully aware that they need a licence in order to sell, and that there are designated areas where they can ply their trade, yet they choose to sell illegally and where they feel like. The vendors are wrong and it reveals a serious problem we as Barbadians have when it comes to order, discipline and following procedure. This recalcitrant attitude is supported by the inconsistent administration of the law.

For months, even years, those in authority would pass the vendors selling and even buy from them, sending a signal that they were okay with what they were doing. As this continues, the vendors become comfortable in their activities and the custom spreads and becomes a habit because a standard has been set. When the custom spreads out of control, then those in authority want to administer the law, leaving those same vendors feeling confused and targeted. This also repeatedly happens with vendors on Swan Street. This attitude is also evident with the coconut vending on the highway; though it is illegal, it is allowed to occur and as you can see, it has multiplied. They will be next.

I blame both vendors and the police. One has the wrong attitude and the other isn’t consistent with its duty.

The authorities should either give the vendors the licence or permission to sell so they are in line with the law, or administer the law so as to maintain order and respect for procedure.

Each year I look forward to seeing the list of subjects for the National Development Scholarship. I commend our governments over the years for giving so many people, especially young people, the opportunity not only to contribute to the development of our country, but also to build capacity and empower themselves. This year I was pleased to see the list of subject areas increased from nine to 23.

The areas of study available are: aviation law, career counselling, child psychiatry, children and family mental health, clinical/behavioural psychology, coastal engineering, conservation management, cybercrime, exploration geophysics, geology and maritime studies/law; media production/studies, nephrology, neurology, new media and national development, oncology, penology, project monitoring and evaluation, psychiatric social work, renewable energy, speech pathology/speech therapy, veterinary pathology, and vocational and technical education.

Application forms may be collected from the Ministry of Education and the deadline for submission is June 27.

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