New highway causes small sales
A line of empty stalls now occupy a corridor that used to be bustling with vendors who competed with each other for the business of motorists using the Bog Walk gorge in St Catherine.
The opening of the new North-South Highway, which starts in Caymanas and bypasses the gorge, is being blamed for a decline in business and vendors in the area.
"We hardly a get sale out here because people nah travel round this side anymore, so we nah sell nothing like one time," said Delano Bryan, who has been selling along that stretch for two years.
Fruit vendor Orandie Morris agreed. "Morning sales weh usually fast and me sell nuff bag a me fruits, me a sell one or two so me haffi stop buy a lot of the star apple and jackfruit cuz it nah sell,"explained Morris, who has been selling at the spot for four years.
Another vendor, Lenworth Vernon, told THE STAR that since the February 5 opening of the new highway, "nuff vendors lef out yah, used to be more than 30 a we along this stretch, now a just one and two a we".
A mother, daughter duo who share a vending space, painted a picture of drastic change of fortunes since the highway opening.
"Me normally go farm three times a week, now me only go farm once a week because the jackfruit dem nah sell," said Simone Campbell, whose mother, Yvonne Robinson has been selling with her on the stretch for more than 10 years. "Hopefully when the people start haffi pay the toll them will come back on this stretch so we can start make a living," said Robinson.
The rest stop for the newly opened highway, which will be in Unity Valley in St Ann, is due for completion soon. This is where some vendors are viewing as the means to solve their struggling sales.
"Anywhere the people dem deh, a deh me want deh," said Morris.
"If we have to go there we have to, otherwise we cah do nothing more," another vendor added.