Displaced vendors contemplating next move

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 19, 2018

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VENDORS who, up to Tuesday, sold items in the vicinity of the newly installed bridge in Manor Park, St Andrew, have been sent packing and are now wondering where to go next.

The vendors told the Jamaica Observer Tuesday that they were told by a man on Monday that they should leave the area by Wednesday. However, they were unable to identify the man.

Some of the vendors said they were also displeased with how the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) handled the issue of their relocation, which has become necessary due to the upgrading work currently under way on the heavily trafficked Constant Spring Road.

“KSAMC nuh have nuh manners. If we nuh pay dem, dem send metro fi come seize we things,” Rema Maxwell exclaimed.

Maxwell, 56, told the Observer that she has no issue with relocating, but said nothing has been put in place by KSAMC for them to do so.

“They could have come and have a meeting, give a time period, even say, 'We give unnuh certain amount a time', and say 'Wi a guh try look somewhere put unnuh',” Maxwell said.

Maxwell, who began vending at the bus terminus shortly after the children she babysat migrated four years ago, said she has no other source of income.

“If we go out there go thief police a go kill we. If we go sell we body police a go hold we. Me cyaah manage that now. Mi have light bill to pay, me is a sickly woman — mi have heart problem,” she said, adding that she had restocked her stall hours before being given notice to leave.

“I went and bought $10,000 worth of goods... The bun truck came this morning and we have to turn away the man because it nuh make no sense,” the woman said.

When the Observer arrived at the lay-by yesterday, Nicola King was seen clutching a knife as she cut hot dog buns for bus operators who swarmed her Reggae Jammin-branded mobile stall. Some of them also requested Milo and coffee.

King, 38, had only been vending at the location for just over two years. However, she said things were going well until Monday, when she was told that she had 24 hours to leave the area.

“They said we can sell up to today [Tuesday]. I feel bad because if them did just come and say, 'I giving you two months' notice, a week notice', or whatever, we would be more prepared. Right now we don't know what to do and I don't want to go home and stay home. We have our children to feed,” she said. “What is the next plan? What is the next move for us?”

Prior to vending on the street, King said she was selling snacks and juices at her home but that was insufficient to support her family. The mother of two said, after brainstorming, her husband bought her the mobile stall.

A couple who was among the five vendors, who were still trying to capitalise on sales, said they would have appreciated if KSAMC had notified them.

“We a pay and not even a meeting from KSAMC,” Shadae Boothe said as her partner, Christopher Smith, transformed their stall into a cart.

Boothe, who was not surprised by Monday's notice since work is already under way to expand the road, said up to last Friday she asked a representative from the corporation what was happening.

“She said when she hear something she would let me know. I wouldn't mind KSAMC tell us where to go,” Smith added.

Unlike King and the other vendors, Kirk Brooks was prepared to move.

According to the 48-year-old, he knew this day would come.

Brooks, who said he has been vending for 38 years, told the Observer that he had relocated three times prior to now.

“It nuh frighten me, and it won't be the last. Just want to get the road fix easily. Anywhere the bus stop is, that is where I am going to be,” the father of four said.

When the Observer contacted the National Works Agency on Tuesday, Communication and Customer Services Manager Stephen Shaw said he was not aware of vendors being given notice to relocate.

Yesterday, Town Clerk Robert Hill also denied serving the vendors notice.

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