Favoritism for Dundas Pop-Up Market
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle has granted vendors in the Dundas Pop-Up Market permission to reopen on Tuesday, despite their failure to secure the necessary documents.
The stalls, located on an open space owned by Dundas Centre for the Performing Arts, are operating like a tuck shop without the proper infrastructure.
However, after putting in a call to good friend Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, they have been given the green light to reopen while decades-old restaurants on Potters Cay remain shut.
Despite following the necessary rules and regulations, restaurant owners on Potters Cay were constantly harassed by police officers who often chased their few customers away and banned curbside takeout - a service permitted by the Competent Authority. They were eventually ordered to shut down.
Though Potter’s Cay is part of D’Aguilar’s constituency, business owners there weren’t connected enough to get the Freetown Member of Parliament’s ear like Dundas Market stall owners, who are also receiving support from Access Accelerator, an arm of the Ministry of Finance formed to assist small businesses.
Apparently, Access Accelerator and the Department of Inland Revenue have agreed to work with vendors in Dundas Pop-Up Market to bring their businesses up to code. Despite harsh restrictions placed on other businesses to ensure the safety of customers during the Covid-19 pandemic, stall owners are just beginning to take steps to ensure their stalls follow safety protocols despite operating in that space for months.
Stall owners have been encouraged to think of ways to make their stalls “COVID safe” before they reopen on Thursday while Potters Cay vendors, who invested thousands to install hand sanitizing stations and social distancing markers, are stuck at home fretting over where the next dollar will come from.
Potters Cay vendors are required to have a valid business license, food handlers certificate and health certificate for every employee, tax compliance certificate, COVID-19 safety certificate, up to date National Insurance payments, hot running water, electricity and grease traps in order to operate. Yet with all that, they remain closed.
However, Dundas stall owners made one call to a cabinet minister and got the go-ahead to reopen.
“Why can they pitch a tent and operate as legitimate business owners while we can’t?” asked one disheartened Potter’s Cay vendor.