Bread and butter burn
Vendors in distress after fire destroys their goods at another market
Market vendors in a section of the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston are in despair as millions of dollars in goods went up in smoke yesterday bringing to three, the number of markets razed by fires in three weeks.
The section of the market close to Chapel Lane is the latest in the commercial district to burn following fires that razed the Ray Ray Market and Oxford Mall Arcade in February.
Fiani Duncan and her two children, also vendors, are among several victims of Friday’s ruin. They woke up to the news that their wares were destroyed by the blaze.
“It’s a devastating moment because is not like say mi get bun out and mi can call pon mi daughter and mi son, three a we bun out. We lost everything. All a weh yuh see ya suh a goods, mi sell from a pin to an anchor,” Duncan told The Gleaner.
Duncan, who sells plates, boxes, seasoning, ketchup, fab soap, bath soap, measuring scale, garlic, onion, among other items, said her losses are in the region of $6 million.
Her daughter, Taneisha Ford, said she is unable to think straight and is unsure how she will overcome.
“Right now mi nuh know. Mi head nuh deh pon mi body, I swear. Right here is about $700,000. Mi have whole heap of onions weh mi sell by the bag, and Irish to, anuh like a likkle bit a sup’m, a good amount,” she said.
They got the nerve-racking call at 1:30 a.m. and immediately went to the scene, albeit in vain as nothing was saved.
Another vendor Teri-Ann Smith said she only saw her chair when she arrived.
“Mi jus buy goods this week, mi nuh come out Monday, Wednesday and mi say a tomorrow mi a sell and everything gone,” Smith said yesterday.
Councillor for the Tivoli Gardens Division, Donovan Samuels, told The Gleaner that the market manager at the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) is tallying the figures and a preliminary count of about 35 persons were affected.
“We are going to clean up the place for the vendors who are coming in tomorrow and then next week we can sort out the other things,” Samuels said yesterday during a visit to the burnt-out location.
He told The Gleaner he has concerns with the frequency of the market fires and is awaiting a report from the investigators at the Jamaica Fire Brigade.
Samuels said, “The fact that you have three fires in three weeks, then you start to wonder what is happening. We leave it to the firemen to determine the cause but any reasonable person would start to wonder what is happening.”
Kiesha Minto could not hold back the tears as she sat in a corner among the rubble crying.
She calculates her losses at $400,000 and said she was broke having used her earnings to bury her late mother.
“A it (vending) mi have fi live off and fi send dem go school and all a dem sup’m deh,” Minto, a vendor of 10 years, told The Gleaner.
She, like the others our news team spoke to, bought goods for resale and went to market just days earlier.
“Tuesday when mi go wholesale mi spend bout $150,000 plus the market something dem nuh in deh like onion and dem sup’m deh. Peas nuh in deh. One of the bag a peas cost $18,000,” Minto said.
Damion Walters, who works in the market, is urging the Government or private sector to offer support to the victims and build concrete shops for greater protection.