News

Ochi vendors angry

Blame parish council for hurricane damage to market

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, October 26, 2012    

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OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Heavy winds and rains from Hurricane Sandy on Wednesday damaged the Ocho Rios Market, causing several vendors to lose thousands of dollars in goods stored at the facility.

However, the vendors are not blaming their losses on the wind or the rain. They said yesterday that the St Ann Parish Council should take full responsibility as it had failed to carry out the necessary repair work.

"We keep telling parish council they need to cover the place properly," one vendor stated. "You think a now we a beg them; we no stop begging them," the woman added.

Sections of the market were flooded when the category one hurricane ripped off a section of the roof at the front.

Yesterday, a number of the vendors who went to the market early in the morning to clear water from the facility and put water-damaged goods to dry, said that for years they have been told that the market would be fixed but nothing has happened.

"From 1998 me deh here and from then 'till now we [have been] complaining to the parish council," said Carlene Coombs, a vendor. Coombs said vendors have been buying tarpaulins to protect their wares from the elements, but on Wednesday they were not enough to keep out the rain brought by Hurricane Sandy. The result was that several items of goods were soaked.

"We want to know if we can carry we landlord (the council) to the rent board," one upset vendor said.

"The parish council 'over slack'; they are only collecting rent," said another vendor who identified himself only as Mr Coombs. "They [are] collecting money from us; $650 plus light money every week and they not maintaining the place," he told the Jamaica Observer.

In addition, the vendors were upset that neither political representatives nor officers of the council came to look at the damage. "It is a shame; the storm blow and them no send nobody come look," a female vendor was overheard saying.

"From morning we no see neither MP nor councillor. Imagine, them must can show up. At least come see what the storm do," another woman added.

The vendors said they did as much as they could to protect their goods, however, the structure of the market prevented them from doing enough.

Carlene Coombs said they have been asking the council to cover a section of the clothes market, which connects to the food market, however, their cries have fallen on deaf ears. She pointed out that had that section of the market been covered, less damage would have been done.

Some vendors raised concerns about the safety of their goods as sections of the market were destroyed during Sandy's passage, leaving their goods vulnerable to thieves.

"Mi going see if dem nah come fix it now," one vendor stated, pointing out the damage done to the roof.

The vendors said they have been given several promises that the market would be fixed, the latest from minister of local government Noel Arscott, who toured the facility earlier this year.

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