Arcade vendors voice concerns after branch breaks

POSTED: 03/21/13 12:50 PM

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Vendors get involved in the cleanup exercise prior to the arrival of the members from the Fire Department yesterday. Photo Today / Milton Pieters

St. Maarten – Normal business in the Vendors Arcade came to a standstill yesterday after a huge branch fell onto the roof of one of the stalls sometime between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

While the passage of time, a wind factor and a degree of negligence may have attributed to cause the huge branch to fall, it did not go down well for the vendors who were directly or in directly affected and who depend on the daily sales for an honest income.

“I was packing up around six thirty when I heard a sound, my husband said move and we ran away quickly. I was afraid the roof was going to break also, because they are not so strong” said Madame Plesil, the owner of booth #5 B.

While the trees do help to absorb some of the harsh rays from the sun and offer a degree of shade over sections of the Arcade, it is also a cause of concern. “When these trees were planted first it did not cause any problems, but now they are too big and the root is showing, they can fall anytime, they are not supposed to be here.”

But with the trees comes another cause of concern and that is the birds that dwell there. “At one time, I was showing a tourist a painting when a bird coco on it; even the tourist was messed up,” the still distraught vendor added.

“This is a big problem” said one vendor who did not want to give her name. “If that had happened on a busy day when lots of tourists were shopping here, what would have been the result and how would the tourists react after that. I think they should cut them down,” the woman said.

“We did not ask for trees, we asked for a place to sell our goods,” said another very angry vendor who also did not want her name mentioned. “Those humongous trees are now killing our sales. This could have injured or killed one of us too, it’s too dangerous. They are too big for this market; and if we were to get a hurricane now, what will happen,” she stated.

Prior to the inspection and cleanup operation, a few vendors assisted with the cutting and removal of the smaller limbs which hung precariously in the passageways between the stalls, but that move was not well received by the officials that were present.

The area directly affected was barricaded as work on the cutting and removal of the huge branches began. However, one important aspect of the affected tree’s downfall was brought to light by a bystander. An electrical wire could be seen embedded into the section of the tree which was in an advanced stage of decay.

That could only be possible if the tree was perforated to allow the electrical wire to pass through when the tree was younger. It is not clear who is responsible for maintaining the trees; the probable cause is yet to be investigated.

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