MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Victor Mitchell, an occupant of one of the controversial wooden shops at the Spalding Market, has no interest in the processes which landed North West Clarendon Member of Parliament Richard Azan in trouble.
Mitchell, a tailor, says his only concern is that the authorities need to build more shops on the market property.
"Mi nuh business wid all a wha dem a talk 'bout, all mi haffi seh dem need to build more shop inna di place," said Mitchell, waving his arms about, as he chatted with the Jamaica Observer team that visited Spalding yesterday.
While news that the contractor general had asked the director of public prosecutions to consider whether Azan was criminally liable for building the shops without following procurement policy, procedures and regulations, was on every lip, only Mitchell was prepared to be quoted by name or to have his picture taken when the Observer visited.
However, while not prepared to be named, a few other shop owners who bothered to open for business in mid-week were in sympathy with Azan. "Dem not being fair to him, all him try to do was to build the shops which were well needed," said one woman.
Another vendor, who operates a bar, said she recognised that Azan may have erred in terms of procedure but that his intention was "good".
A few metres away, vendors selling ground provisions, vegetables, fruits and spices inside the market and along the driveway said they were more concerned about a $2,500 fee being imposed on them by the Clarendon Parish Council and what they described as "harassment" by the police.
They complained that "not even a sign" pointing to the market had been erected by the authorities, yet they were being prosecuted by the police and that there had been at least one seizure of goods because some dared to sell along the driveway.
"Dem don't even have sign, if we not out here, people wouldn't even know seh market in here," said one woman.
Despite their grouses, they too sympathised with Azan. "Him nuh deserve weh dem a do him... bout him fi step down; step down fi what?" one vendor asked.
Another waved dismissively at the shops. "Look pon wha dem a mek noise 'bout, some little board up sinting...," she said.
Yet another who claimed to be an Opposition Jamaica Labour Party supporter claimed Azan was being unfairly treated since "everybody" knew about the shops and their construction.
"Mi a Labourite but Mr Azan a good man and dem nah treat him right. Everybody did know 'bout di shop dem, prime minister know bout it, a she did come open the market, the mayor know bout it, so why dem a leave poor Mr Azan alone inna it?" she asked.
However, another vendor pointed out that "is not because him build the shop dem why im a get trouble, is how him go 'bout it".
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller formally opened phase one of the Spalding Market at a function last September. At the time, Azan showed off a model of the planned shopping arcade.
When reached by telephone yesterday, Azan declined to comment, saying he was being "guided" by his lawyer.