New Straw Market Signature Location For Bahamian Crafts
Nassau, Bahamas –The Straw Market Authority Act’s vision for the Bay Street Straw Market is intended to create an environment for the safety of visitors, the interest of operators and economic benefits for the country said Public Works and Transport Minister Neko C. Grant.
Mr. Grant moved the new Act in the House of Assembly Monday.
“The Act and Accompanying Regulations address the majority of the concerns identified by the stakeholders’ group for urgent attention,” Mr. Grant said.
“Further, the official, on record, response of the Bay Street straw vendors indicates that generally, they are in agreement with the policies intended to correct key problems such as the sale of “knock off” goods, illegal sub-leasing of stalls; operation of multiple stalls by individual vendors; harassment of tourists; disorderly behaviour and existence of criminal activities.”
The Bay Street straw market was destroyed by fire on September 4, 2001. The loss of the market, said Mr. Grant was a “devastating blow” to the livelihood of thousands of Bahamian families. “It negatively impacted the income of vendors who operated stalls in the market as well as residents in New Providence and the Family Islands who plait the straw; stitch baskets, design jewellery and other authentic Bahamian souvenirs for re-sale in the market.”
Mr. Grant informed parliamentarians that construction of the straw market has been completed on schedule and within budget.
He said construction of the new market will provide vendors with an attractive, clean, spacious, well lit and ventilated facility that should wow tourists and Bahamian clients alike.
“However, if truth be told,” said Mr. Grant, “Over the years progressive deterioration of the business environment has occurred. Illegal practices and blatant disregard for prevailing policies are commonplace; harassment of tourists; and generally disorderly behaviour are the norm,” Mr. Grant added.
Therefore, the immediate challenge is the determination of The Government to reverse the situation and ensure that this “market culture” is not transferred to the new market.
Mr. Grant outlined a number of measures that the government is taking to ensure that rules and regulations are followed by vendors.
“Enforcement of these measures by an empowered management entity such as the Market Authority should deter unauthorised persons from operating in the market and also discourage illegal sub-leasing.
“I am hopeful that the implementation of training programmes along with enforcement of these rules should effectively curtail the sail of counterfeit items and prevent the resurgence of the flea market appearance in the new market. Indeed, I am hopeful that these measures should lead to the realisation of our vision that, once again, Bay Street Straw and Craft Market will become the signature location for showcasing Bahamian made crafts and products.”
In 2009 the government awarded a $12 million contract to Cavalier Construction Company to construct the straw market. Patrick Rahming and Associates is consultant architect and lead project manager.
The new market has accommodations for 500 stalls for vendors; 31 specialty stalls and 14 for wood carvers. The 34,000 square feet building (at ground level) includes an enclosed, air-conditioned mezzanine which is serviced by an elevator. The second level includes a multipurpose room, a kitchen and a room for supervised after-school activities.
For the first time ever the market will have infrastructure that will allows vendors to operate credit card processing machines in stalls.
By Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services