Coronation Market up and running again

Coronation Market up and running again

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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CORONATION Market in downtown Kingston is again up and running after four days of cleaning and sanitising.

The Jamaica Observer visited the market yesterday and noticed that, while the huge crowds that usually fill the premises on weekends were not visible, the vendors had refilled all spaces with goods — ranging from food to soap powder — and were glad to be able to return to the downtown landmark.

As was expected, the general feeling was that it was nice to have a clean and sanitised market for both vendors and customers. However, most vendors did not like that the market's opening hours have been restricted to between 6:00 am and 2:00 pm.

“We want it open from six o'clock 'til about five o'clock,” protested Carol, a noisy vendor who sold mainly escallion from St Elizabeth and cabbage from St Ann.

It was the same lament the news team heard at the first stop, Noddy Elliott's stall, which was loaded with fresh, juicy produce from the bread basket area of St Elizabeth.

Elliott is one of the so-called “middle men” who purchase cabbage, tomatoes and escallion from farmers in and around the parish, and take them to Coronation Market, sometimes referred to as “Corry” for short, to sell.

He wasn't satisfied with yesterday's slow sales, but was convinced that today will mark the return to usually large weekend crowds. However, he was also concerned that with selling hours now limited to the eight hours between 6:00 am and 2:00 pm, he might not have enough time to sell his entire load.

A neighbouring female vendor said that she came in from Thursday and, if she was allowed to stay until 5:00 pm, she would have sold off her escallions.

Elliott was also determined to dispel the view that people like him, who purchase produce directly from farmers and transport them to Kingston to sell at “Corry”, were the only ones making huge profits from locally grown produce.

“That's not true,” he insisted. “You know how much it cost me to bring my load from St Elizabeth to Kingston — $5,000,” he explained.

As we spoke, one of Elliott's favourite customers, Shavagay Smith, a schoolgirl who attends May Pen High School, turned up and joined the conversation about the price of escallion, as she was relaying the prices to her mother — an uptown St Andrew vendor.

Walking around the stalls, it was refreshing to see the high quality of produce, which included huge, freshly picked oranges from Bog Walk, cabbage from Guy's Hill and St Ann, and red, fat pineapples from St Elizabeth.

“Well, right now the land just fertile. Everything is growing and growing big and plentiful. So, tell the customers there is a lot more where these come from,” one vendor contributed.

Some vendors called for more security inside the premises, to make their customers feel safer. During yesterday's visit, the Observer team did not notice any form of security.

However, all vendors, despite their complaints, were happy that the market was again open, and most of all that it was clean.

“The last time I see it clean like this was when Digicel repair the place after the fire,” said Elliott, referring to the fire that resulted from the 2010 security force operation to trap former Tivoli Gardens 'don' Christopher “Dudus” Coke in the neighbouring community.

After that disaster, Digicel Foundation contributed more than $169 million towards refurbishing and equipping the market over a period of two years.

The project repaired and replaced all the structural steel members, installed a new roof, a new floor, and a new water system that incorporated the collection of rainwater for reuse, while ensuring the retention of the original structure of the market.

All bathrooms and offices were renovated, old structures demolished and new stalls and shops built, leaving the market with approximately 800 new shops and stalls, all equipped with scales and much more. Since then, the market had not been fully cleaned until now.

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