The section of the Morant Bay Market covered with taurpalin. (Photos: karl mclarty)
Several vendors complain about poor roof and no light at some parts of facility

Whenever it rains, some vendors who operate in the Morant Bay Market in St Thomas have to flee from their designated spots to seek shelter for themselves and their produce, due to the decrepit covering of the facility.

And just when they thought that was enough trouble, they would have to pack up before it gets dark in the market, as some sections are without electricity.

The market is divided into two sections. One side is covered with worn out tarpaulin, while the other is covered with sheets of zinc which have a few fist-size holes in them.

Selling under the tarpaulin has been rough for 56-year-old Clive Nugent.

Complaining that he has to constantly purchase tarpaulin to shelter from the weather, he said, “A $3,700 me spend fi buy tarpaulin. Right now me want one. Breeze and sun mash up this. If rain fall now me suffer, that's why we want the roof. It is tough.

“About a month ago me buy this [tarpaulin] and now me afi go get back one because me cya stay ina the sun fi sell and when customers come dem want shade too. Me cya manage it. Them na do nothing fi help we round here so. The only thing them interested in is them money,” added Nugent, who has been selling there for 22 years.

His colleague, who gave his name as 'Chambers', had started selling in the same section, three years after him.

Chambers shared his frustration about the lack of electricity and the cleaning of the area. According to the vendor, the “auxiliary staff nu keep the place proper.

“Me talk to them (authorities) about it regularly. Every time them come fi collect them market fee— the $300 per day. They always say they will report these things, but we still not getting the results. And when you could have spent an extra hour, you have to pack up because there is no light,” said Chambers who has been selling at the market for 25 years.

“If round here cover up it would be a joy because when the rain falls, we can't sell around here,” he added.

Yet another vendor, 49-year-old Wayne McFarlane who said he moves to the other side of the market when it rains, argued, “When rain fall we have problems. The stall get wet up, customers get wet. It is not good. It is very frustrating because sometimes it's raining for a week.”

Located a few stalls away from the male vendors was another seller Petrona Walters.

She said her ability to earn more money has been impacted due to no “light''.

“We na no light and if we nu buy tarpaulin and put up, we na no covering. We cya get sales in a darkness, we have to pack up and go home,” she said.

At the zinc-covered section, the concerns of those vendors were no different.

Like the vendors under the taurpalin, they had concerns about no light in certain areas too.

“Right now me nu have no light. Some of the bulbs blow,” said Mary who has been selling there for 30 years.

Her complaint was corroborated by another vendor, Janet Francis,, who has been vending there for over 20 years.

“When rain a fall, water run like river [due to the big holes in the zinc] and when night-time, dung deh su dark like midnight. We nuh have nobody weh come and talk to we bout improvements,” she argued.

She added that she is also plagued by theft of her produce.

“All when we goods dem tief, there is nothing we get back. Nobody comes and say anything. In here we don't have any rules. They said they are not responsible for the goods. I pay $2,000 every week, 'cause me have two stalls and if you don't have the fee one day dem quarrel. Long time we have the problem but it getting worse,” she said.

On the outskirts of the markets, more vendors were spotted selling produce in front of a 'No Vending' sign.

Those vendors murmered to the Observer that they feared being targeted by the authorities for complaining about the poor conditions.

Several attempts to speak with officials of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation failed.

A vendor points toa huge hole in thezinc-covered sectionof the Morant BayMarket.
Chambers, has been selling inthe Morant Bay Market for 25years.
Another vendor spottedoutside the Morant Bay Marketweighing his potatoes on ascale.
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Staff reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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