THE Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) is in discussion with its partners to increase vending as well as parking facilities in the city’s downtown market district in time for the busy Christmas season.
Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke promised yesterday to get on top of the problem of illegal vending by mid-October to ensure a better shopping environment in December.
“December is one of our greatest challenges as far as vending is concerned, and we are determined at the KSAC that December is going to be a pleasant experience downtown, both for the vendors, the merchants and for those who are willing to come downtown to shop,” Mayor Brown Burke said.
She was speaking at a press conference at the KSAC’s offices to announce the renovation of the Redemption Market on West Queen Street.
Originally a ground provision market, the Redemption Market evolved into a haberdashery and will be refurbished as such at a cost of US$500,000. Designed by the Urban Development Corporation and with the Digicel Foundation managing the project, the new facility will have space for 130 vendors.
Denise Herbol, mission director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is providing the funding, said USAID was committed to the growth of business downtown.
“The renovation of the Redemption Market and the market district will stimulate economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for those directly affected by the operations of this market. It will become a vibrant attractive and safe place to conduct business and buy products,” she said.
Town Clerk Errol Greene said the USAID had been approached by the previous administration for assistance with the market. He said based on the funding arrangements the USAID could not fund directly through the KSAC.
“Because of the Digicel's Foundation’s track record with the Coronation Market, they were asked to take on the project. They took us out of the loop as far as procurement is concerned,” Greene said.
Digicel had renovated the Coronation Market.
After the press conference the stakeholders, along with the media, toured the market area where construction workers were on the job, laying tiles and putting in concrete and steel fixtures.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer, Mayor Brown Burke said the KSAC was in discussion with the vendors’ associations about the insurance of their goods against the background of the frequent fires in the vending areas downtown.
“Maybe we have to look at (vendors having) insurance before we accept you in the market,” the mayor suggested.
She said, too, that the KSAC would have to revisit the problem of illegal connections in the markets, which has been cited as a possible cause of the fires.