McKenzie: This was not built for you to live in
Vendors warned fish market for trade only despite stay-over plea
Despite the presence of security staff at the newly reopened Red Rose Fish Market in downtown Kingston yesterday, vendors believe that it will take a long time to stamp out the deep-rooted scourge of extortion.
The fish vendors, some of whom have been operating in the area for more than two decades, told The Gleaner on Monday that they want to be given the authority to secure the premises themselves and not just have a security guard in the days.
“A we do security work a night time, right through, from ever since. Dem can hire we fi security ‘cause dem a security a day. ... Dem a nuh night-time [security]. A it we a do a night-time from ever since. A we deh ya a night-time,” one fish vendor, who did not wish to be named, said.
“A millions a dollars worth a fish come ya so at night-time and at daytime. People unload fish at nights. There’s nobody fi watch it [at nights], so if the poor man bruk yuh [storage] box, dem gone wid whole heap a thousand a dollars worth a fish,” the vendor added, pointing out that “knowings” enabled them to secure their stock at night.
“We will deh ya so and di man dem (criminals) will pass and leave it alone,” the vendor told The Gleaner.
Even with their reasoning of wanting to stay inside the newly handed over facility at night, Kingston Western Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie, who is also the minister of local government and rural development, warned at yesterday’s opening ceremony that the market is not a residence for vendors and their associates to stay at night.
“The vendors who are going to be using this facility must take pride in using it ... . This is not an apartment building ... . It’s not somewhere where you bring no mattress and throw pan di ground, and then after we see TV come in, and then you have some relatives from country, yuh bring dem come, and it becomes an apartment complex,” McKenzie said.
“I am giving the vendors notice. This was not built for you to live in. It was constructed for you to ply your trade, and anybody who breach the protocols can’t stay in there,” he warned.
The Red Rose Fish Market was closed some years ago for a $43-million renovation by the Urban Development Corporation, financed through the PetroCaribe Fund.
OPERATE IN SAFE SPACE
The work on the fish market, which is located at the intersection of Rose Lane and Heywood Street, included the construction of a framed structure, 50 vendor stall areas, 50 fish storage compartments, new pavement for parking, and fencing.
Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams said that the market upgrade is one facet of the Downtown Kingston and Port Royal Redevelopment Plan 2030 and will now allow the fish vendors into operate in a safe space.
“That is very important to us because these are vendors that didn’t have anywhere to sell their fish while the Red Rose Fish Market was under renovation, so they had to be somewhere along the sidewalk and the streets in order to continue their livelihood,” he said.
Up to Monday morning, before the building was officially opened, roughly 20 persons had registered for stalls and paid the $7,000 fee. Others could be seen making their way to also pay their registration fees before the start of the 10 a.m. ceremony
Rose Marie Buckley, who has been selling there for 19 years, was pleased with the renovation.
“Mi feel glad. Yuh know how long mi a wait pan dis fi happen? Long time mi want Red Rose open. Trust mi, mi comfortable inside more than outside. Nuh thief can’t come in deh come rob yuh. Di people dem weh a come buy, some time dem get rob outside. When dem in a di market, dem (thieves) can’t grab them ... . We wiself a security, because if somebody a come buy from yuh, nobody can’t rob dem,” she said, thanking the authorities for the reopening.