Port Maria Market vendors complainMonday, March 01, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
A new market has been built in Port Maria, St Mary, at a cost of $56 million to accommodate all vendors, including those who were selling illegally on the streets of the town.However, vendors have complained that the location is not good for business as not many buyers have been visiting the new market.
There were repeated sighs of frustrated vendors, the hissing of teeth and the snores of those who had fallen asleep when the Jamaica Observer visited the market, recently. Vendors unleashed a string of complaints, saying the market's new location was stifling their businesses.
Maurice Morgan, 61, a vendor for more than 20 years, told the Observer that the market needs more promotion so business can return to normal. He contended that while on the roadside, even with the pandemic, he attracted more buyers.
“We nah make no money. A waste we a waste time ova yah suh. From morning me in here and we nuh sell $1,200. Right yah now, the facility nuh finish yet. It nuh organise properly. Enough stall nuh ina the market. The market never ready for us yet. The place need proper advertisement, so the people can know seh market round here suh. Nobody nah come round yah suh. And by time this thing fi develop, we goods dem spoil and we cah find back no more money fi go back a market,” he lamented.
In 2019, prior to the completion of the market, mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary, said vendors who hustle on the streets in the parish capital affect the “law and order of the city”, an issue he said the police failed to address. Speaking at a St Mary Municipal Corporation meeting then, the mayor declared that no vendor would be allowed to sell outside the market after it was completed.
But an upset Morgan said he had to throw out two boxes of plantains recently because he had them for too long.
“In every week, there is something you must lose. Look how dem black,” he said in a defeated tone, while pointing at plantains at his stall. “The goods dem a spoil! All cabbage, the amount weh me dash weh this morning.”
However, Morgan admitted that the vendors put themselves in such an unfavourable situation. Their behaviour on the road before, he said, is why they are confined to the market today.
“We never so good pon the road. We the higglers make things bad sometimes. Dem nuh give people space fi walk on the street. Everybody just nuh business… a man just a think about selling and the dollar him can make. But the good a suffer fi the bad. It terrible. Right now me have me yute a college and me nuh see where this going anywhere.”
Another vendor, 51-year-old Dorothy Beckford, has been selling in the market for three weeks. She is conflicted by her happiness for a secured selling space and the discontentment caused by the absence of profit.
“Me glad fi di market, but with all fairness, a bare seller in yah and no buyer. From me come round here, fi mi business mash up. And me nuh have no alternative… me bread lick outa me mouth. No other business nuh over this side fi attract the people ova yah suh. The market alone nah carry it. If two other business did over this side fi carry the people over here, it woulda work,” she said.
Added Beckford: “Today a Thursday… big market day. Yuh see any buyer? All a we siddung in here from morning. The mayor try him best but we nah sell. Every week we have to pay $500 and that is no problem because we ina a comfortable zone. If a did even $1,000 or $1,500 and we a sell, no problem. But yuh round here fi the whole week and nah sell a thing.”
Mary McFarlane, a breadfruit vendor, was also frustrated. McFarlane, restrained in her discourse, said: “Nothing nah gwaan fi we; things slow. Yuh hardly see people a come in. If me did still deh outside pon the road, most a dem breadfruit here woulda done already. Me sure a dat.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Creary told the Observer that no roadside vending will be facilitated.
“We opened the market... and since then we have rid the streets of vending totally. Not only the cart vendors; you had a number of clothes vendors who used to hang clothes on persons business places. That is a thing of the past and we plan to maintain it in that way. It was a collaborative effort between the corporation and it's something that we've been working on for years. The streets of Port Maria are the cleanest they have been in perhaps decades.”
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