Time is running out for illegal beach vendors to comply with the new Trade and Business Law, after many have been served with 14-day notices in recent days.
Government insists the law must be enforced, but vendors argue they simply can’t afford to pay pension and insurance.
Lawmakers have differing opinions on solutions.
“It is like taking a sledgehammer to kill a sand fly in most instances,” said Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush.
He told Cayman 27 the new trade and business law is unfair to vendors like those who set up shop near the West Bay dock.
“The smallest operations that you wanna find, are those that can sell a conch shell. And you want to charge them, make sure they have this insurance for what?” said Mr. Bush.
“We don’t intend to displace people, but we have to, a) help everyone become compliant with the law, and b) protect our tourism product,” said Tourism Councillor Joey Hew.
He said vendors who display an intent to become compliant could possibly buy themselves more time, but insists the law must be enforced.
“We have to be careful when we start bending the law or only applying the law to some people and not other people, it’s a tricky game,” said Mr. Hew.
“Government needs to sit down with these people, they need to say, here is a one page application, and if you don’t have the money then we are going to waive this for you,” said Mr. Bush.
Both men agree certain things like jet ski rentals need stricter regulations.
Vendors like the proverbial coconut man still may cause liability issues, warned Mr. Hew.
“You’re chopping with a machete on a hard surface with pieces of coconut,” said Mr. Hew. “A piece flicks up, the machete breaks and flies off and hits someone in the eye? We have a lawsuit that the government is facing for millions of dollars,.”
A hypothetical scenario, admittedly, but one government says the new law was designed to help avoid.
Mr. Bush had another word for it…
“That’s ridiculous,” said the Opposition Leader.
Mr. Hew told Cayman 27 unlicensed beach vending has escalated quite a bit in the last several months.
He pointed to an October audit of Public Beach, which tallied nine beach vendors. That figure had climbed to 15 by December, and 19 just a few weeks ago.