The Cabbage Beach Debacle

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Scores of workers marched with Minnis over the Paradise Island Bridge in protest to the blocking of access to public beach on the island.
Scores of workers marched with Minnis over the Paradise Island Bridge in protest to the blocking of access to public beach on the island.

By Jerry Roker
For Bahamas Press

PM Christie ought to be applauded for his swift action on behalf of the Cabbage Beach Vendors by concluding, in record time, an arrangement that allowed them back on Cabbage Beach. But you know what, he will still be vilified. We can be a very ungrateful lot, especially when we allow politics to control our thinking.

But never mind this, several of them and their supporters saw fit to pull down the fencing surrounding the private Cabbage Beach Property.

My information is that these vendors do not have business licenses, and are generally unregulated. It is my view, that everyone doing business in the country, ought to have a business license, period. And you must meet certain minimum standards, whether you are selling cars or peanuts.

The Cabbage Beach vendors, in response to their not being able to access Cabbage Beach, albeit for a short period of time, backed by those opposed to the PLP government, decided to block the entrance to The Sir Sidney Poitier Bridge, before marching to Cabbage Beach and pulling down the fencing around a private property thereon. Some of them were arrested and charged before the courts. Those opposed to the PLP government, have expressed the view that, for their illegal behavior, they ought not to have been charge. I disagree.

Obviously, the leaders of the FNM and DNA and participating trade unions, fully support persons doing business without business licenses, as required my law, and in an unregulated environment with oversight. The reality is that those opposed to the PLP government really don’t give a damn about these vendors, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to exploit the situation, hopeful of scoring some political points.

If those political and trade union leaders really loved the vendors, and felt that their cause was such a worthy one, they would’ve surrendered themselves to be arrested, not run. People fighting causes, look forward to being arrested to bring attention to their issues. They wear it as a badge of honour. And they don’t destroy
people’s property.

The Cabbage Beach controversy, brings to the front, the reluctance of both FNM and PLP governments to once and for all address the issue of beach access for our citizens. Equally important, and like the jet ski operators, these and other vendors who do business with our visitors, need to be properly, trained, licensed and regulated. It is not only in their interest, but also in the national interest.

It is no secret that these Cabbage Beach Vendors, like their colleagues in the Bay Street Straw Market, for the most part, are a rowdy bunch and are more than aggressive when they are trying to ‘break their luck’. Also, they are not adept or similarly aggressive when it comes to properly maintaining their work environment.

It is my fervent hope that this matter receives a total and permanent solution, that the vendors can buy into, because, to the extent that they can positively impact their clientele, is to the extent that everybody wins.

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