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Taking stock

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Have you been paying attention to what is happening in Kingstown? I refer to onlyone, the mushrooming of vendors on the streets. It is now difficult to walk along Bay Street, where there are vendors on both sides of the sidewalk between the Blue Caribbean building and the Police Headquarters. A similar thing happens on Back Street, from the area of the Bank of SVG. In front of CK Greaves is a total mess and has been that way for some time. Now, we are beginning to see the growth of persons selling from the backs of their vehicles, daily occupying parking spaces. Additionally, people are selling just about anything they can find. I heard someone referring to a gentleman selling boiled eggs. Not long ago I saw a man walking around town selling three 2lb bags of peas. 

Of course, we should commend these people. They are not breaking into peoples’ homes, taking what doesn’t belong to them. Maybe among them lie some potential entrepreneurs, just waiting to blossom. It is known that bad economic times result in a multiplication of vendors. The problem is that there is little order to it, as it is done in an ad hoc fashion, where anything seems to go. I must admit to having no clue how to deal with this, because the one advantage they hold on to dearly is being near to passers-by, who probably had no intention of buying anything, but saw something that caught their attention. And so, bingo!

It is really a difficult matter, because in the face of a deteriorating economic situation, here are people at least trying to help themselves. I worry about our state of production and always ask myself what are we producing. We depend so much on Taiwan and to a lesser extent Venezuela, especially given that country’s trying situation. We always look back at the golden days of bananas, for then money flowed throughout the country on a regular basis. We became victims of the dictates of the World Trade Organization. Our tourism industry has still not reached the point of take-off, despite what is happening in the Grenadines. Are we still interested in eco or nature tourism? Will we be able to attract that group of tourists given Dominica’s unfortunate dilemma?

We seem to agree that criminal activity here operates on many fronts. Even without hard data, but based on an understanding of Vincentian society and how it ticks, I will venture to say that some of it is the result of hard economic times. Even with our drug culture, we must admit that to the unemployed and disillusioned and in a situation where there is an absence of hope, the hills provide a tempting opportunity.

This is particularly significant during this Independence, anniversary. 1979, the year of our Independence was not an easy one for this country; the eruption of La Soufriere, and an election that was followed by an uprising in Union Island. We have really, over the years, not had any major disasters, but gingerly moved along, often not being sure where we wanted to go. Today, things have broken down; a state of lawlessness pervades the society. I am tired writing about the cows that roam Cane Garden, but there are other ills. Why do we have, in a residential area, business people either using their basements or renting houses to store goods? Aren’t there provisions against this? But this is SVG! I am, of course, only able to highlight a few things. Shouldn’t we in this 38th year of the recovery of our independence close our country for stocktaking?

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian

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