Furious Portmore vendors reject $25m market
A group of vendors who sell at the entrance of the Municipal Boulevard coming from Mandela Highway into Portmore, St Catherine, are dreading relocation to the $25-million 'Ackee Village' the Portmore Municipal Council is building for them because they fear it might kill their businesses.
The vendors, who dangle ackee and roasted breadfruits for motorists to see going into and out of Portmore via Mandela Highway, told THE STAR they doubt that motorists will leave their route to visit the Ackee Village.
"When mi out here so the people dem pass and see a jelly, dem 'say see jelly deh, mek mi get one'," Danett Murray Johnson said. "So going over there you know the jelly business a go out because people nuh a go come off dem route fi get jelly."
Murray Johnson, the first vendor at the spot 22 years ago, said though they want to stay in the motorists' view, there are some upsides to moving to the village, including bathroom facilities, running water and electricity.
But another vendor, Michael Johnson, said there are no advantages in relocating as security will be a major concern.
"I don't believe the whole movement from here to there will be good. First thing, we want security around there and they don't have no security round there, so it come een like a fish pot weh dem put you in a small space and you can't move if a anything," Johnson said.
Mayor of Portmore Leon Thomas said that having illegal vending at one of the entrances to the Sunshine City does not look good.
"There is no running water over there, no bathroom facility, no electricity, and it don't look good for the entrance coming into Portmore, and those people who are out there know it is illegal vending that they are doing," Thomas said.
Thomas said that after having several meetings with the vendors, they decided to build the Ackee Village.
"We are in constant communication with the original 24 vendors and they don't have a problem with it," Thomas said. "Since we started the construction, you have people coming from all over the island to sell there, but the facility that we are building is just for the 24 persons."
He said the municipal council will beautify the spot after the vendors move.
"We gonna plant trees and flowers and we will police the area to ensure that no more vending takes place there," Thomas said.
The facility, which is slated to open sometime this month, has 20 stalls and a park in the middle. It is adjacent to the roundabout where Dyke Road meets Municipal Boulevard.
Thomas said this is the first phase of the project that the municipal council will be using to attract businesses to Portmore.
"In the other phases we are looking to build a riverside park where we could have bars and restaurants," Thomas said.