Categorized | National News

PI Vendors Have Criminal Records

A top Atlantis official has revealed that a “significant” number of vendors operating on Paradise Island’s Cabbage Beach have criminal records.

Kerzner International Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Retail Services Ed Fields said executives have embarked on a stringent vetting process to ensure that corrupt, violent and unlicenced businesspersons who are working on the popular beach are removed.

Mr. Fields said the resort is serious about pinpointing and removing individuals that should not be there.

“We recently compiled a list of names of all the vendors working on the beach and we started to vet that list. While I will not give an exact number, I will say that a significant portion of persons on that list have been charged with firearm possession; they’ve been arrested for drug possession and we’ve discovered a whole plethora of unsavory behavior that some of these folks were involved in,” he said yesterday during an appearance on the Love 97FM Sunday talk show, Jones & Company.

“These behavioral issues do not coincide with the Atlantis product that we are trying to sell on Paradise Island. The reality is we have to do something. We cannot allow it to continue and we certainly cannot allow it to expand.”

This tough stance follows a series of violent events which have unfolded at Cabbage Beach.

Last Thursday, Atlantis officials launched a crackdown on unauthorised business operators on the beach. Officials confiscated several vendors’ umbrellas and beach chairs and denied them access to the beach to conduct their business.

“We now have daily altercations on the beach. In fact, the day before the removal of the unauthorised vendors on Thursday, there was an altercation with a vendor who stabbed two other vendors,” Mr. Fields said.

“All of this happened in the front of our guests. We’ve had rock throwing, people chasing people with cutlasses; there is the illegal sale of alcohol, drugs and of course other contraband. So it has gotten out of hand and we are simply exercising our right under the law to reestablish law and order on our property,” Mr. Fields said.

Anywhere pass the high water mark on Cabbage Beach is considered property of the Atlantis Resort.

With this in mind, Mr. Fields said Kerzner has the responsibility to ensure that tourists and Bahamians are kept safe while on the beach.

Since 2003 there were approximately two dozen beach vendors who have been given authorisation from Kerzner International and various government agencies to operate on Cabbage Beach.

Mr. Fields said that number has mushroomed over the past nine years.

“Back in 2003, we found that certain government agencies had issued licences and permission for vendors to operate on Cabbage Beach. They had been there for quite some time, so we decided to grandfather those folks and allow them to operate. It was anywhere between 20-23 persons at that time. We then entered into agreements with relative government agencies that no future licences could be granted until we had given written permission that these persons had been authorised to do business. Nonetheless, since 2003 that number, independent of our permission, has just increased triple fold,” he said.

“In many instances people approached us about operating on the beach and we’ve said no, but they did it anyway. We have tried to create an environment where we can work with folks, but it just keeps expanding and becoming out of hand and we will not wait until something tragic happens before we act.”

According to Mr. Fields, problems started at Cabbage Beach after business owners who were granted authorisation, decided that they would hire large amounts of individuals to work with them without permission from Kerzner International.

Mr. Fields said these are the individuals who have not been vetted and are namely the ones who get involved in drug peddling and solicitation on the beach.

“You cannot operate a business in The Bahamas without a licence, so the first step in cleaning up the beach will be to vet everyone for a valid business licence and [to find out] whether or not the licences to work on Cabbage Beach were granted with Atlantis’ permission,” Mr. Fields said.

“We will look at the names that were authorised by certain government agencies independent of Atlantis being involved and the first group on persons who will have to leave will be people who are not on any of those lists. The second thing we will do is look and see who was a part of the original list of 20 to 23 vendors that were given authorisation and grandfathered. If they have their correct business documentation they will be allowed to continue operating on the beach.”

He continued, “then we will look at the character of those involved. We may be prepared to allow some of those persons to be on the beach with the view that if they commit one breach then they will be denied access. And then there will be people we just will not accommodate.”

The beach clean-up is only targeted at vendors on Cabbage Beach and will not affect recreational beach goers.

“To date, Atlantis has accommodated beach access more than any other hotel that operated on the island and we will continue to do just that, but we owe it to ourselves to present a standard that is acceptable globally,” Mr. Fields said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Watch JCN Channel 14 Shows

Jcn Channel 14

Sign in now to see your channels and recommendations!

Join Us on Facebook