Local Gov't 2016 : Vendors in Manchester claim state of facilities turning away buyers
Several vendors in Mandeville are not pleased with what they have to endure daily to make a living.
The complaints range from rodent infestation to inadequate sanitary conveniences and poor infrastructure.
"The other day me hear say dem (management) get $1.6 million grant fi fix up the place, and all me see dem do a patch patch the inside a di shop dem and paint it an' drop likkle marl and likkle steel. How you fi fix inside a waa shop and you nuh fix the roof fi prevent all di dutty market water from come een? The arcade waa lock and rebuild and get new management cause as me see it, a conship a gwaan yah so," said Roger*.
When THE STAR visited the arcade there were several empty stalls, long faces and rats running wildly along the floors. Roger said customers do not want to come to the market. He also complained of no security and that vendors continually find condoms, faeces, blood and semen in the mornings. An unbearable stench from cesspools is a sore point for vendors who can no longer tolerate it.
"You think it stink now, a when rain fall and it rise. You haffi run out yah! Dem yah sinting yah we sick people, who fi tell if anuh it gi me virus ina me throat," Daisy* told THE STAR. One vendor who admitted to having to use extreme measures to ease herself is unhappy with the council's decision to close the bathroom in the arcade.
"Look here, dem lock the bathroom and only open it Friday and Saturday. And you can imagine every time you want use the bathroom you haffi pay $30 and all haffi pay fi water fi flush it. The woman dem in here haffi pass dem waste Ina bag and dash it weh, and dat nuh right," Sandy* said. When THE STAR contacted the health department, an official said it was the first time she was being made aware of some of the issues highlighted.
"We do our inspections of the arcade at least once per year and we do our inspections of the market and slaughterhouse on a regular basis as these are food-handling facilities. But in terms of what you are now saying to me about the rodents, this will have to be a joint venture with the parish council as the rodents know no bounds," said Charmaine Palmers-Cross, chief public health officer.
She further stated that upon investigation of the matters at hand, if there are health concerns, the facility would be closed temporarily. Maintenance of the market comes under the purview of the parish council, and Mandeville Mayor Brenda Ramsay said they are doing all they can do to ensure the vendors are satisfied.
"Works are ongoing but it is subject to the availability of funds, and as soon as problems are identified we try to address them. We have a lot of people going on the street and and we have a lot of invasions from persons outside of the parish but our municipal police are trying to maintain law and order. We do the best we can on a daily basis, and I must commend these persons who are not armed and sometimes come in contact with those that are." Ramsay explained that through a public-private partnership, there will be a new state-of-the-art market with municipal parking, a plan which is now in the second of three stages.
Ramsay also addressed the issue of the closure of the sanitary conveniences, acknowledging the stench as a problem and the closure of one main bathroom as part of the solution. She noted, however, that the bathrooms in the market are open for use.
*Names of vendors changed upon request