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Mayor says some Redemption Arcade stalls will be ready by December

Observer staff reporter

Friday, November 10, 2017

SOME of the vendors who were forced to relocate after fire destroyed the Redemption Arcade in downtown Kingston in June can now breathe a sigh of relief as some of the stalls inside the market are expected to be ready by month-end.

The disclosure was made by Mayor of Kingston Senator Delroy Williams during a tour of the fire-damaged 'Ray Ray Market' Tuesday morning. He said the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) will waive the vendors' fees.

“The objective is really to try and complete the stall area so that the vendors can use the stalls for the Christmas season. We are about 60 per cent complete,” Williams told the Jamaica Observer, adding that the municipal corporation has increased the number of welders who are repairing the stalls.

Last month, when the Observer visited the downtown Kingston market, vendors who sold items inside the Redemption Arcade complained bitterly about being unable to provide for their families because the market was still closed.

The vendors had also claimed that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation was dragging its feet with repairing the market.

“A three man alone over there seh dem a work from June until now. Look, see the burn-up stalls dem still in there. If dem did a do something dem (KSAMC) would a take them out already,” vendor Sharon Davis charged, last month.

On Tuesday, Williams explained that the workforce was increased on Monday in an effort to meet the deadline.

“We have already increased the number of welders and they started yesterday (Monday). Hopefully, by the end of the month we would restore… I am not sure we will finish all stalls, but we will be probably 80 to 90 per cent complete. We will move those vendors in for the season so that they can use it during the Christmas season,” Williams said.

Following the fire, frustrated vendors, some of whom claimed they were never compensated after they fell victim to a fire at the Jubilee Arcade, questioned whether they would be compensated.

Williams said Tuesday that the municipal corporation was unable to compensate the vendors, but said it will waive market fees for six months.

“It might add up to $50,000 per vendor in fees. If that is what we can do, that is what we can do. We still would be giving them something,” Williams said, adding that the corporation has been encouraging vendors to take responsibility for their goods.

When Williams completed his tour of the Ray Ray Market, which is a stone's throw away from Redemption Market, he was beckoned to by vendors who said they had been waiting for weeks with bated breath to speak with him.

Vice-president of the Redemption Market Vendors' Association Lisa Kerr told the mayor during the discussions that he should have had a meeting with the vendors after the fire, in order to address their concerns.

“The vendors are wondering what is going on,” Kerr said.

The mayor, who was in agreement with Kerr, instructed Commercial Service Manager Gary Robotham to arrange a meeting with the affected vendors for next week.