Shoes Market vendors begin to get help after fire
MONTEGO BAY, St James – Eleven vendors affected by last October’s fire at the Shoes Market in Montego Bay were on Monday presented with cheques of $60,000 each.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Pearnel Charles Jr promised that everyone affected by the blaze will eventually get support, and Prime Minister Andrew Holness urged vendors who have not yet submitted claims to do so.
“It’s $30,000 for partial damage and $60,000 for complete damage; although what we have seen is that it’s complete damage that individuals have faced coming out of the fire,” Charles Jr said.
“We have 11 persons here today who will receive a total of $60,000 each, and expect that each person will get that amount or more based on the damage to their stalls,” he told journalists during the handover.
He said, going forward, others will be compensated in batches.
He explained that the ministry has so far received 43 applications from displaced vendors, but they expect several more.
“What we have seen so far of the 54 stalls that have been destroyed, more than 80 persons have been impacted,” said Charles Jr.
He added that Member of Parliament Heroy Clarke, Councillor Richard Vernon, and Montego Bay Mayor Leeroy Williams had all appealed to his ministry to assist the affected vendors.
An elated Sarika Calvert was among the batch that got their cheques on Monday.
“I feel overwhelmed because I lost a lot. This cannot cover [all my losses] but I give thanks because I didn’t give them anything to put down, so I’m grateful for what they have done for me,” she said.
She explained that before the fire she sold clothing, shoes, bags, children’s wear, among other items. She said the entire amount received would be pumped back into her business to get it up and running again.
Fellow vendor Salome Drummond was also thankful.
“I appreciate what they have done for me. Although this cannot do as much that I have lost but [I] thank God because we never expected anything, and we are grateful for what they have done for us,” she said.
“At the end, we will do what we can with it,” she added.
Serita Allen, who sold phone accessories, saw all her stock go up in flames last year. She has tried to bounce back by crediting some items. She said that the funds received Monday will help pay off some of that debt.
“I feel so good with this cheque here. I have a bill up a town [Kingston] from [a long time now] and thank you for this cheque. When my things burn up I didn’t really have any money but God favoured me and I go trust them, and see me get the little cheque here,” she stated.
Before the handover of the cheques Holness and a throng of local political representatives visited the facility and engaged with vendors.