Harbour Street craft vendors decry plans to close the facility on SundaysMonday, May 03, 2021
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The decision by the St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) to close the Harbour Street Craft Market in Montego Bay on Sundays as a measure to cut back on spending in the wake a sharp decline in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, triggered disquiet among tenants of the facility.
This afternoon, the militant traders, who on Friday evening received a correspondent informing them that the craft market would be closed on Sundays, voiced their concerns to Mikoyan Robinson, manager of the facility.
According to Melody Haughton, president of the All-Island Craft Traders and Producers Association, the letter came as a surprise to them as only late last month, during a meeting with the SJMC, it was communicated that due to monetary tightening, there would be a staff cut at the craft market and the facility, which opens at 8:00 am, will be closed three hours earlier than the usual time at 8:00 pm.
"So after we left out of the meeting...we only received a letter on Friday to say that they are going to lock the market on Sundays as well," Haughton explained.
"We had dialogue with the municipal corporation about our rent and they said they wanted to close the market because we were not paying them any rent. So we had an agreement that they are going to compromise with us, cut the business hours and cut their staff.
"We come back and we agreed to pay 50 per cent of the rent and the vendors really going in with their money, those who are in operation.”
Another bone of contention for the vendors was that the entrance at the Howard Cooke Highway has been closed, keeping out potential customers from gaining entry from that side.
The irate vendors are now breathing a sigh of relief since the meeting with Robinson during which they were promised that the gate will be opened and other issues, including the Sunday closure, will be looked into.
"The vendors are in dialogue with the council so the decision is under review," Robinson told OBSERVER ONLINE.
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