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PM: Work on Coronation Market starts Monday

BY COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 11, 2010    

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RECONSTRUCTION work on Coronation Market is scheduled to begin on Monday as the Government moves to make the area a prime feature of its downtown Kingston redevelopment drive.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding made the disclosure yesterday following a tour of the market, sections of which were destroyed during last month's clash between gunmen and the security forces in West Kingston.

The livelihood of thousands of vendors was severely impacted after a fire started at a section of the market, burning goods inside and virtually halting business at the centre of commerce in the capital city.

"We are going to commence work on Monday morning; that's just the initial response to get the area back in operation so that those vendors who have been displaced because of the operation can be restored to their normal location," Golding said, adding that provisions were being made to assist the vendors individually.

He said that the work was part of a larger effort to transform the market facilities, conditions of which "even before the security forces' operation, left much to be desired.

"It has to be a part of the whole transformation of West Kingston, and more significantly the redevelopment of downtown Kingston," he said, noting that more than 3,000 vendors operate in the area.

Golding led a tour delegation which included Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie, and minister of agriculture and fisheries Dr Christopher Tufton. The tour encompassed sections of Heywood Street, an area called 'Back Market', the burnt-out Darling Street Police Station, and the Rural Bus Park.

Yesterday, the presence of hundreds of vendors and shoppers suggested that normality had returned to the area.

But not even the high-powered speakers blasting dancehall music in the background could drown out the condemnation that some persons hurled at Golding, even as they sought his assistance.

"Mi nuh want nuttin to do with Bruce, mi nuh want him bout yah. A mi goods me want him give mi back," shouted a male vendor who ran beside the group on Heywood Street.

"Until him do that, we don't want to see him," said a female vendor.

Christopher Cowan, a vendor in 'Back Market', was so eager to share his plight with Golding that he climbed onto a board stall to get his attention.

"Mr Golding, we are tired of your promises. We want food, we hungry," he said.

Golding ignored most of the tongue-lashing, but a group of women, clad in green, and who throughout the tour sang his praises, did not hesitate to defend him.

"Leave we prime minister alone; some of you just looking something. Is Bruce we say, straight," one of them shouted.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding (left) and a member of his team speak with vendor Christopher Cowan (centre), during a visit to Coronation Market and its environs in downtown Kingston, yesterday. Cowan told the prime minister that he was tired of his promises.

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