Ugly mess in Papine, Cross RoadsWednesday, October 27, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
DEPLORABLE restrooms, uncollected garbage, theft and other irritants have been plaguing vendors at markets in the Corporate Area, no matter the amount they pay to sell in these facilities.
At Papine market in St Andrew, graffiti-stained walls and mounds of waste signal a need for improvement of the facility.
When the Jamaica Observer visited the market recently, unattended stalls were plenty while vendors inside refused to speak about the conditions.
But, vendors on the outside of the market were eager to voice their frustration.
According to them, several have indicated their interest in moving inside but have failed to get access due to a culture of favouritism.
“Is bare friend and family ting gwaan inna Papine market. You will go in and want a shop and they won't give you, but if their friend come and want a shop in there, they give it to them. They would rather give their sister, brother, or their cousin,” said 53-year-old Audrey Reid, who has been selling at the roadside for more than 15 years.
Reid said she sold in the market for a couple of years but relocated to the outside due to a number of challenges.
“A whole heap a mi things missing inna di market; they say that those inside the market are stealing the people goods. You have mad people walking up and down in the place and you have a lot of cats in there too who leave faeces on your goods. In there wants to be arrange properly,” said Reid.
She charged that when complaints are made to the supervisors of the market, nothing is done to remedy the situation.
Despite not being averse to moving back into the market, Reid said she gets more customers on the outside.
“When mi come out on the road mi see a better sale than inside the market. On a whole, you find people passing and they don't have enough time to rush go into the market to catch one and two things. Also, the market closes very early, like 7:00 or 8:00 pm, but now they close even earlier [due to COVID-19] and you will find out that some people coming from work very late and want a likkle buy, so it better when you out on the streets to assist them,” said Reid.
According to the vendors, they are required to pay a $500 market fee if they have a stall or handcart, and between $800 and $1,500 for shops in the market.
Thirty-four-year-old Hortense Strawn, who has been selling outside the market for three years, said she has been paying for a spot inside which she is unable to use.
“Although mi outside mi still a pay mi market fee and I have been paying for a spot. But somebody's stall is in the spot and mi talking from the other day that I want to put some goods in there and people things in the spot,” charged Strawn.
Twenty-six-year old “Sasha” told the Observer that she is suffering a similar fate to Strawn.
“Imagine, I registered in there and them give mi a spot and mi put my goods there and by the time they give mi the spot today, the next morning the things dem move and two other tables are there. They need some new people [managers] in there. If you not giving them free goods off your stall, you and dem aren't friends,” charged Sasha.
In the meantime, at Cross Roads market, a potholed road and flies swarming a garbage pile-up greet customers at one entrance to the facility.
“A just the road want fix, that's my real concern. We did talk to KSAMC [Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation] and dem say dem did a go fix it. The road stay so fi 'bout 15 years, but sometime they would usually throw some things in potholes for a fix. Dem only fix a little part of it already, so the other part must be on the agenda,” said 40-year-old Gerald Whyte, who has been selling in the market for 30 plus years.
To the right of the market entrance is a mud-stained restroom reeking of urine that is seen on the floor.
“Sometimes they [overseers] run the bathroom to their convenience and not to the public. It's still terrible. The female section isn't so bad but they don't clean over the male part. Sometimes I am standing here, I just see people urinating all 'bout,” said another market vendor who gave his name as Jah Son.
Another vendor, 49-year-old Arden Lloyd, was equally frustrated.
“The market is in a very deplorable condition. The manager nah do nutten 'bout di market; all they do is collect market fee on Saturdays. Sometimes for weeks the garbage don't take up. A bare fly. All when rain fall a lot of water settle up in the potholes, making it very uncomfortable for the customers to purchase things,” said Lloyd, who claimed that he pays $2,800 weekly for operating his shop inside the market.
Last year Lloyd was one of the shop owners who was affected by a series of robberies, which caused him to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of goods. But after the issue was highlighted by the Observer, he has not experienced anymore theft. However, Lloyd is still calling for an upgrade of the market.
“We would like to see them improve the market. The bathroom is in a very deplorable condition and customers complain everyday, especially when it rains and the garbage pile up for days,” he said.
During a virtual town hall meeting in April last year, Mayor of Kingston Councillor Delroy Williams had promised that work to redesign markets operated by the KSAMC was slated for completion within three months.
“The municipal corporation has been spending a lot of time over the last 18 months crafting and redesigning the markets. We have to redesign for enforcement, for commerce, [and] for traffic flow and movement of pedestrians,” said Williams at the time.
The KSAMC is responsible for 30 of 77 markets across the island.
Efforts by the Observer to get an update from the KSAMC about the planned upgrade of the markets have so far been unsuccessful.