Straw vendors arrears rise
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: May 10, 2013
Amid speculation that the government plans to replace him as chairman of the Straw Market Authority, Ron Pinder said Wednesday some vendors are using the "rumors" as an excuse to forgo paying their rent.
"Whoever spread the rumors did so with a view to undermine the authority of the present board," Pinder said from his downtown office in the Nassau Market.
“A lot of vendors have used that as an excuse not to pay their fees. We have a significant decline in the collection of outstanding fees.”
He insisted the board is functioning efficiently. However, the board members’ one-year appointment will come to an end on June 30, the chairman said.
In November 2012, rent arrears stood at $220,000. That figure increased to $290,000 more recently, Pinder said.
Prior to November, arrears were in excess of $320,000, according to Pinder.
He said the board will take action in short order, including revoking licenses of straw vendors, whose arrears are over $500.
A total of 141 owe between $500 and $2,170; 70 of them are on a payment plan.
The rent for a stall is $35 per week.
A total of 665 vendors are spread across the Nassau Market, the Cable Beach Pompey Market and Fort Fincastle.
“The collection of the rent arrears is an ongoing management challenge because there is a very stubborn culture which exists within the straw market where the overwhelming majority of vendors do not pay their fees regularly,” he said.
“...We have had to exhaust enormous amounts of manpower and paper in sending letters and reminders to vendors, and meeting with them, to collect the outstanding fees.”
Pinder acknowledged that some vendors have legitimate financial challenges. He encouraged those vendors to speak with him and explore signing onto a payment plan.
In a separate interview, Straw Vendors Advancement Association President Celestine Eneas said some vendors cannot afford to pay rent because business is down.
Eneas said it has nothing to do with whether Pinder will be replaced.
“Some of them can afford maybe and don’t pay, not because of the chairman rumors, but because they don’t want to pay and some just can’t pay,” she said in front of her colorful stall.
“It has nothing to do with the chairman going, because whether he goes or stays you have to pay the rent, but I would hope that he goes.”
Irena Rolle, a long-time vendor and president of the prayer ministry at the downtown straw market, said she does not understand why some vendors would use that excuse.
“I solemnly, strongly support my chairman because he came here with a vision,” Rolle said. “He just wants the best for all the vendors, and for them to stay in order and pay their rent.
“I support my chairman, Ron Pinder, all the way.”