BUSINESS operators at a plaza located at the intersection of Olympic Way and Bay Farm Road in Kingston say ongoing road improvements by the National Works Agency (NWA) is killing their livelihood.
They said that a curb wall that has been erected by the NWA as part of the road improvement project has been turning away customers who are finding it hard to park in order to enter the businesses.
According to Ken Clarke, who operates Ken Clarke’s Auto — a transport repair business, the project was undertaken without any consultation with the business operators, whom he said would suffer most from the move.
“This is not good for business. We can’t get to conduct our business without the unnecessary hassle. They have built the curb wall and shut out all space where our customers used to park. This will mean that we are going to lose money and what are we to do next?” an obviously upset Clarke told the Jamaica Observer.
When the Observer visited the area on Tuesday NWA workmen were busy repairing the roadway and seemed oblivious of the concerns of the business people.
The work of the curb wall was not yet finished as marl could be seen where a sidewalk used to be.
The plaza houses two bars, two wholesale establishments, a hairdressing parlour, a bookstore, a hardware store, and a photo studio as well as a branch of the Electoral Office of Jamaica.
Peter Batten, who operates the Olympic Square Bar, said he was also seriously affected by the repair project.
“Every business has been cramped. Our customers have nowhere to park and we have already seen a drop in sales. The workmen could have left an open space where cars could get access to the sidewalk and everyone would be happy. We understand that progress must happen but it must be done with the welfare of the people in mind,” Batten said.
A female worker inside the Olympic Way Hardware shared similar sentiments.
“We sell a lot of heavy items and our customers are being affected because they have to park on the roadway and when they buy things like cement, toilet bowls and other heavy stuff they have to struggle with them all the way to their cars. It is causing a problem for us,” the woman said.
Cars and other vehicles which were parked at the side of the roadway along Olympic Way and Bay Farm Road caused a traffic snarl as other motorists negotiated their way through tight spaces which were left.
Residents who had congregated at the popular intersection on Tuesday were also concerned that the curb wall was constructed without the disabled in mind.
“Some of the people here use wheelchairs including the owner of a bar. There is not even a ramp or something to make it easier for the disabled people to access the plaza. Them never think about what they were doing,” one man said.
Also affected were scores of taxi operators who used to park their vehicles on the sidewalk before the construction was carried out. Now the operators say they are forced to park on the road, worsening the traffic congestion problem.
“Why is it always the trying man who feel the pinch? Everybody has to make a living and we are trying to do so honestly,” a taxi driver said.