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#409426 - 06/07/11 09:53 AM Wholesale market vendors need improved area
Marty Offline

The Michael Finnegan Market Vendors are unhappy with the new configurations implemented by the Belize City Council. The street vendors who normally block traffic along the canal side have been moved and the wholesalers have been relegated to sell their produce on a side street. Last week Deputy Mayor Phillip Willoughby said that the new market rules came from the vendors, but they still weren’t satisfied. But according to one businessman who buys wholesale fruits for his Joy Juice business, more can be done to alleviate the problems outside the market.

Stephen Okeke, Consumer

Stephen Okeke

“When we came to market by 4 a.m. we already find it difficult to find some fruits because some of the wholesalers have decided not to come. If you are giving them wholesale day, it should be wholesale day—they should have the whole day to sell. If you buy up to fifty dollars, you get wholesale price. If you buy less than fifty dollars, you get retail. We should give people options—you should have option as buyers. Just like we have between Smart and BTL—one person give double up the next person give triple up or quadruple up. So the customers benefit. You should give them wholesale day and make it whole sale day and give that competition. But even where they are being put right now is so unhygienic. If you are moving them from the kennel side into another location, mien these guys are providing us with service. If a piece of cantaloupe or watermelon or lettuce falls into this drain here, they pick it up and wash it, we are the ones that are going to eat it. So if the City Council, the City Government will move them from this location to that location, it would have been just fair to have prepared it before you move them. These guys are not animals. The canal can be repaired, the canals can be narrowed, filled and the wholesale vendors can go back to where they were removed. There is no reasonable point for them to have been removed from where they were before—convenient for us buyers. This place is squeezed in, so congested—it is not a good location to work. It is not just that, it does not show business sells and entrepreneurial leadership. You need some degree of entrepreneurial leadership. It is not about confronting the City Council or making it look like they don’t know what they are doing, but the City Council should be practicing participatory governance. We are not being ruled, we are being led so our opinions should matter. The canal can be repaired, it should be narrowed, there is enough space for everybody who want to bring produce from their farms to bring produce. They shouldn’t be discouraged.”

It’s sure not then end to the vendors’ woes and we’ll have more from the Deputy Mayor on Tuesday.

Channel 5

#409505 - 06/08/11 09:50 AM Re: Wholesale market vendors need improved area [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

More Craziness at Finnegan Market

Last week we showed you the mini drama that unfolded at the Michael Finnegan market when Councillor Phillip Willoughby laid down the new law, which sent wholesalers to Hiccatee Street. It seemed, at first, to have gone down with some measure of equanimity - but at the market - it seems the course of things never did run smooth - and so today - all parties involved were back at each other's throats - with the wholesalers, wholly dissatisfied with the new arrangement. Now, they've formed an association to try and block it. We were at the market today to see the sparks fly:

Monica Bodden Reporting:

Oscar Pollard - Farmer/Secretary of Farmers Vendors Association
"What we have come up with will be as follows. The problem and situation with Farmers Vendors and what they demand to be immediately addressed are as follows. This issue of the raise from $10 for each vehicle to $15 without notice, the vendors do not agree to pay $15. Anyways, there are solutions to every problem. The solution that the vendors came up with is, if the area is marked and given security, they would agree to pay the $15. The vendors - we agree to pay $15 plus it must be in writing to the legal group that will be representing this group. That's the demand of the vendors. The demand for the use of the canal side, West Collet Canal, from King Street to Dean Street Bridge, vendors have pointed out that Hiccatee Street is not enough for the amount of Vendors, which is about 65, hence the reason for the use of the canal side. Flooding is a problem on Hiccatee Street during the rainy seasons, and these are the situations and the problems in respect to the use of Hiccatee Street. The other problem with Hiccatee Street is the neighbors who have problem with the vendors and also threatened to cause injury. This happened this morning. The Farmers Vendors decided to sell produce, or dispose of such in any quantity in order to serve the consumers of this country."

Those were just a few demands listed on a proposal made by a newly formed association - which is made up of wholesale farmer's. It is called Famers Vendors Association.

And it was formed this morning. Out of the first meeting came that proposal which was presented to the Council.

Alvin Hyde Jr. - Farmer/Chairman of the Association
"They settle what is happening within the Michael Finnegan Market, we decided to form and elect an association, and that was the purpose of our gathering this morning. As you noticed, our secretary read out the proposal, and we had an election. I was elected Chairman of the Association, and we have our councilors, our secretaries, and members of the association."

Monica Bodden
"Now what will this association do?"

Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Well this association will do exactly what we have on our proposal here on this minutes paper. So we'll take it from there with the council. The Mayor and the councilor responsible for Marketing."

Monica Bodden
"So you guys came together, and you guys wrote out all the issues that you have with vending behind this area."

Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Right, we have everything in place. We have the vending zone, which is from - at present we have Hicatee Street, and we are negotiating from the Dean Street Bridge to this other bridge up this side here from the terminal to this other bridge here. And that's what we are negotiating for. Because when it rains sometimes here takes water to your knee. That spot is much higher, then the hurricane season is also on hand, so we have to take all these things into consideration, that when here takes water, we have high land for safety."

Oscar Pollard
"Since we moved here the first of June, which was our demand, we were given notice on the 24th of April, that this is the final decision. We have to move relocate by the first, but that it was totally chaotic. One of the first things that being on the canal side, it was unhealthy to have things on the ground nearby the canal, but at this point in time, this area is still worse. Because if you can notice the streets - potholes- right now in this rainy season, the water will be splashing. They canal side would not be having that problem, and what we are saying here is that the canal side is much better the wholesaler because, what happen is that when you park. You park on the edge of the canal, and you actually distribute the thing on a pavement, which is much more sanitary. When we came out here this morning, we were confronted by residents of the area, especially one guy who has a big cement house. He went to the extent of saying that some blood will run because this place cannot be used as a market place. It is designated as Hiccatee Street. We agree; we know that Hiccatee Street is the area to be used, but the distance, the amount of space is not adequate."

According to Councilor Willoughby - the Council is opened to meeting with these vendors to try to come up with an amicable solution.

Phillip Willoughby, Deputy Mayor
"I think it's undermining of the Council's position to rectify the vending situation for the retailers and wholesalers on the canal side; that's the position. Everything that is being implemented right now, was agreed by all out here. There is a change in the position of some, fair enough. I believe everything is on the table for discussion; we can debate that. The current problem right now is that the vendors - the wholesalers - we retailing - were wholesaling on Boccora Street, Iguana Street, as well as Hiccatee Street. The community has a problem with that because of the hours they come in to transact business. And they, as you heard from their recommendation, they want to wholesale to the retailer and others, and then still stay and retail and operate as the Michael Finnegan Market. And they want us, it seems that their demand for us to legitimize that, and I told them yesterday, in an interview, that for us - the Council and the wholesalers to sit and discuss, or take anything into consideration, cannot happen outside of the community, the retailers, and them, So all of us must come together and look at the situation, because they themselves cannot live up to their obligation, or their own recommendation. And now, this problem has presented itself, and we have to deliberate on it, and look at the best possible solution."

But that didn't stop the chaos and confusion on Hiccatee Street this morning. While those farmers jotted down their concerns on paper and got ready to meet with the councilor, These retailers who sell inside the marketplace - had their own concerns. One of which was that they did not agree with these wholesale farmers.

"They are wholesalers, and we are retailers, and we are paying 85 for a sack of cabbage, and they are selling out her for 65 cents. And how did Mr. Pollard get into this, he doesn't even come and sell. You understand me, so we aren't with them; we will form our committee as well."

Monica Bodden
"So you think that they are being unfair?"

"It's unfair for us who are in the market, and have to pay $350, and they don't want to pay $15 for their trucks? And when their trucks are full - I don't agree with them. We are going to fight for our rights to."

"No ma'am, I don't agree any at all. I don't agree with them because it's the same thing that I am explaining to them. Why will they come and sell us at a price, and then they'll come and still selling the same price that they sold to us, out here. you understand me? If you by 75 per pound of cantaloupe here, as far as you can see, they are right over their' they are retailing right now out there. And they are retailing in there for the same price, that they sold us if we want to sell it. And what will happen to our rent, and they will stay right here to make the money, and we will stay there when we have to pay our rent monthly. To me, I don't agree with what they are doing out here, because it's not right. So he told me that if I wanted him not to stay out there, I was supposed to buy everything from him, so that he doesn't stay out here. That's more ta "faciness". If you know, that you have a limit to bring - well they bring a hundred. Don't bring 200 pounds again if, if you know how the situation."

And for Willoughby, this morning's episode out at the market - caught him off-guard - since these vendors were his friends just days ago.

Phillip Willoughby
Yes is caught me off-guard, but in the nature of the job that I have, you know that you have to be prepared for anything, and like I said, one day, you'd be riding on that donkey, and the next day you'd be on a cross being crucified by the same people you seek to help and advice."

At 2:30 this afternoon these wholesale vendors and residents of Hiccatee Street met with Councilor Willoughby in a meeting- where they both shared their concerns.

Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Will you listen to our proposal or what? please listen to our proposal."

Phillip Willoughby
"Ladies and Gentlemen, let's just hear what he has to say, and then-"

Alvin Hyde Jr.
"I didn't even finish with our proposal, but let us set our proposal that we have to the council and the gathering, please."

"The farmers, and buyers, because those people that come on Thursday and Friday, they are not farmers. They are just like me and you going to the-"

Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Just a minute councilor, that's why we asked for a meeting for the Farmers Venders, right. We didn't want to meet with this-"

Phillip Willoughby
"Gentlemen, this is one thing I think we would have to hammer out. I think what we will need to hammer out though, Mr. Hyde, is classified - buddy, please bear with us - Mr. Hyde is looking at Farmers Vendors, by the end of the discussion, we'll put biscuit with biscuit and crackers with crackers." Alvin Hyde Jr.
"Who can't conduct themselves in the meeting, you'd have to put them out, you know."

"I agree with some of the proposal that they put forward, and I am here as a resident. My concern is my ability to get in an out of my yard during the market hours. And I observed this morning that was restricted based on what transpired, this morning. So I support Mr. Bruno to an extent, it is concern to not getting us trapped within our residence and we can't come out to go to our different places of employment. My recommendation to you, councilor, and to the rest is that we must co-exist. They vendors, importers, wholesalers, and whoever else we may call them, need to co-exist with us to an extent. So my recommendation is the Queen Square Market Area, that is designed for the market, from in front of the market, the West Collet Canal, to in front of Mr. Hyde, can still be utilized for the vendors and still and close off the area after-hours, so that we could accommodate the vendors as well as Hiccatee Street. I also recommend that the Council upgrades the street, because, personally when I look at Hiccatee Street, to put those vegetables down on the ground, they will ask me to buy it, I would think twice. So I suggest that the Council also consider upgrading that street, especially that drain where several people within the neighborhood had caught dengue, and I am sure that its from that drainage that's deplorable."

All sides agreed this afternoon that they will continue for the meantime with the council's original plan - until a solution is found.

Channel 7

#409507 - 06/08/11 09:52 AM Re: Wholesale market vendors need improved area [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Wholesalers “antsy” at Michael Finnegan Market

Since its opening last November, the Michael Finnegan Market has seen continual challenges as the Belize City Council grapples with the problem of placating wholesale and retail vendors and maintaining improved ambience at the upgraded marketplace.

As of last week, over 30 vendors who had previously been operating on the side of West Collet Canal are ensconced inside the Market, and according to Councilor responsible for markets, Philip Willoughby, the Council is preparing to upgrade the canvas tents under which they sell, to zinc and awning coverings. A yellow-painted three-foot space between stalls will be outlined and enforced to prevent encroaching and competition, but Councilor Willoughby maintained to Amandala this evening that vendors have gotten the same or similar space to what they had on the Canal side, and no longer have to worry about being victims of crime or getting in the way of annoyed neighbors, who complained about them to the Council.

But the wholesale vendors are apparently up in arms about the limits on their time to sell – they can operate only from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – and being placed on the narrow Hicatee Street, which runs from the corner with West Collet Canal to Dolphin Street.

According to Willoughby, the wholesale vendors often sell to their retail brethren inside the Market in addition to other customers. But any attempts to sell remaining produce retail to ordinary consumers would not work, he said.

The point of putting the vendors on Hicatee Street, he said, was to further ease congestion around the Canal side and on Iguana and surrounding streets, where wholesalers previously operated. He maintains that vendors have roughly the same space as they did at their previous sites and can park on either side of the street.

A vendor told Amandala, however, that that is not true. In fact, she said, the vendors have much less space, and cannot sell the same variety of vegetables that they sold on the canal side outside the market.

Councilor Willoughby told us that he is open to meeting with the wholesalers, but warned that he would only act as facilitator and would not allow anything that would infringe on the retailers or otherwise undermine the operation of the market.

In regard to reported problems with sales, the Councilor suggested that vendors, many of whom he says are not from Belize City and for various reasons cannot sell at markets closer to their area, should perhaps consider new methods of doing business, and building clientele without using the market as their central focus.

But he was also amenable to potentially finding a new site solely for wholesalers to operate from – provided that they do not disrupt any neighbourhood selected.

There are quite a few kinks which need to be worked out. Businessman and community activist Stephen Okeke, who Amandala met this morning while touring the market area, told us that he felt the Council did not think things through. He argues that a little foresight and planning by the Council – such as lining and narrowing the Collet Canal in front of the Market as has been done with West Collet Canal at the site of the Vernon Street Fish Market and Conch Shell Bay – would have prevented the necessity of moving vendors. He called for Hicatee Street to be properly rehabilitated to accommodate vendors, many of whom he believes are becoming discouraged by the unsanitary conditions in the area, so much so that as many as half were not present today – making him unable to get the 900 pounds of watermelon he typically buys, despite being there from 4:00 a.m.

Okeke argues that many of the wholesalers he has met are either original producers as farmers, or re-sellers who buy farm produce and sell for a low profit margin, and more should be done to help them. “They are rendering us a service; we are not doing them a favor. So we should do something that will encourage them to keep coming to Belize City, to keep bringing their produce to Belize City. If not, we’re going to go hungry,” warned Okeke.


#409580 - 06/09/11 09:20 AM Re: Wholesale market vendors need improved area [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Willoughby On Market Proposal

Yesterday we told about a proposal made up by wholesale farmers at the Michael Finnegan's marketplace. On that proposal was a list of concerns that wholesale farmers had - particularly with the new move to Hicattee Street. The move which took effect on June first has since been causing drama in the area - not only for the vendors but also area residents. Yesterday a meeting was held between those residents along with wholesale vendors and the council. 7news met with Councilor Willoughby today who told us the outcome of the meeting:

Deputy Mayor Phillip Willoughby
"As of June 1, the end result should have been that the retailers occupy the Michael Finnegan Market, and the wholesalers, or the vendors/farmers/producers utilitize the Hiccatee Street area. Up to June 1, I believe that all of us who engaged that that time, had agreed on what the end result would have been, but things change, and we need to agile and flexible to adapt and adjust with the flow and larger scheme of things. Well as a result of yesterday's gathering, Mr. Hyde, along with the Producers/Farmers formed an association to discuss their interests. And I said that if the Council and our staff we entertained a discussion - we need to cooperate, the residents as well as the retailers. As a result of the meeting now, we sought to look at: 1, restructuring the hours - that's a possibility - and within that time period - but they have to be in agreement with the retailers, who will come back to the people who they represent from the discussion, within the Michael Finnegan Market, in agreement with what was discussed, along with what Mr. Hyde and his people discussed, and then ultimately, we have established and met that common ground. So over the next few days, the discussion will go back to each vendor, and then we huddle-up - I believe Monday or Tuesday to hammer out the details of the discussion, and where we need to make adjustment, and what leverage whichever one has, and then we move forward."

The council plans to meet with the venders either on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Channel 7


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