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Feb 26, 2013

Small vendors moved because of Sustainable Tourism Programme

There is another problem between street vendors and the Belize City Council. Over the weekend vendors that were previously at ground zero were moved to the Battlefield Park because of the ongoing Sustainable Tourism Programme. As you would guess the vendors are not taking the move quietly for a number of reasons. Duane Moody found what’s causing their ire.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Since Monday, you would have noticed that vending stations at Ground Zero at the corner of Queen and North Front Streets, across from the Caye Caulker Water Taxi Terminal, have been moved. The upgrading of the sidewalks and drainage by the Sustainable Tourism Programme and the Belize Tourism Board has caused their removal. The area is now used as a parking lot for privately owned vehicles and taxis.


Kenny Morgan, P.R. Manager, Belize City Council

Kenny Morgan

“The vendors were informed, I think in a timely fashion and they were well aware that this move was afoot. In fact, the Belize City Council has not been collecting any lease revenue from these vendors from since 2009 because we were aware that the project that the Belize Tourism Board is operating with the upgrade of North Front Street leading up to the bridge would be coming in that direction and eventually they  would have had to move. So it is something that they were kept abreast of, they attended meeting and they were informed of the move to Battlefield Park.”


This did not sit well with the vendors for several reasons. They are up in arms because they claim that the council failed to accommodate them in the relocation: one, because they were not given adequate amount of time to adapt; two, because they were being placed in the Battlefield Park which they feel is unsanitary to sell food and three, because the move to the Park is only temporary.


Jennifer Pinkard

Jennifer Pinkard, Vendor

“The only place they had found was the Battlefield Park and that was the only place they could relocate us. Well I wouldn’t mind going there but because of the health and the place how it is being kept, it is not nice for people to go there to do food. So that is my problem.”


Duane Moody

“I understand though that even if you were moved there, it would have only been temporary—only for three months—you would have to be moved again and to somewhere that the City Council would not find for you, you would have to find your own place.”


Jennifer Pinkard

“Yes, we had paid two hundred dollars to relocate there, to pay the truck. And I don’t see it right in three months time to find another two hundred dollars to move; we don’t know where we would be moved.”


Vallen Perez, Vendor

“The people weh got dehn area fi sell already, people lay down on them, they do so many things right out there. To put our booth right out there in front of them, I think that is unfair. The homeless people dehn lay down on the ground, dehn deh aside the thing. When dehn noh deh aside, dehn sit on the place; it is a horrible sight.  When you get out there, it is only temporary because by three months, ninety days, dah because we wa have to move again. I noh find it fair. If I wah move from somewhere, I want it to be for a lifetime or fi at least wah time being. But for ninety days, it is so short. If right now we can’t find a spot fi us and then we go out there, then which part yo wah find cause nowhere else deh. So I decided I wah take my chance and find somewhere else.”


Jennifer Pinkard, who travelled daily from Burrell Boom to sell at her well-known Jenny’s Kitchen, in refusing to sell food inside the Battlefield Park. She relocated to the Y junction on the Boom/Hattieville Road. She opened business today, but says that she will lose in profits.


Jennifer Pinkard

“I decided I would just have to come back to Boom and try to start all over. it is so hard to leave my customers and it is hard because in Boom you cannot make a living the way you would make it in Belize.”


Vallen Perez says that with the death of her son, Anthony Perez, back on January eighth in the George Street massacre, it is hard for her to relocate. She has luckily been able to procure this small space at number 5AA Queen Street, across from the Angelus Press. But there is no money left and is unsure when she will be able to open.


Vallen Perez

Vallen Perez

“I have to find money weh I noh have. After my son death, we get the paper the fifth saying we had to move and they give us fourteen days to move. And in the fourteen days to move, they have two meeting and they tell me one that we have to move because B.T.B. wants the place; they need the place to do weh dehn have to do.”


And while the vendors feel that they were not properly accommodated, Public Relations Manager of the Belize City Council, Kenny Morgan, says they were consulted. He says that the council will work with the vendors as the space, which is leased to Caye Caulker Water Taxi, will now be used as a parking lot.


Kenny Morgan

“The vendors were called in and attended meetings with the City Administrator and other City Council officials where they were informed that the person who has the lease on the ground zero property, which is the operator of the water taxi operation, they have decided that they will now be fencing ground zero and charging bus and taxi operators for use of that as a parking facility. We make available to them the space that City Council has control of on a needs basis. Now the Battlefield Pak itself, the move is only temporary. They will be allowed to be there for ninety days because extensive renovation and construction works will be happening in the Battlefield Park in about that time and the vendors will have to seek relocation to other venues.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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