Community Focus: High market fees make Bend Dung vendors unhappy
Vendors who trade at the Bend Down Market in Falmouth, Trelawny, believe the push by the authorities to have them relocate to the new Falmouth municipal market could drive them out of business.
Falmouth is now considered among the top cruise-shipping destinations in the Western Hemisphere, but in former times, the Bend Down Market was the town's main claim to fame.
However, there is growing anxiety among the vendors, who say the suggested fees are too exorbitant and could be their undoing.
"Them plan fi charge we $2,000 up to $40,000 a month to use the new market, when right now we a struggle to find the $500 to pay them because nutten nah gwaan," said Sherven Surgeon, who has been peddling at Bend Down for the past 25 years.
"The prices only means that a the big man dem want go down there because I don't know why dem pressuring poor people. They come now with these new fees."
The vendors argued that more than 1,000 vendors operate at the current location, but the new facility can only accommodate 400. They also claim that the stalls are not designed to protect their goods from the weather.
"I don't know where we stand. Forty thousand dollars month? I can't afford it. I am going to have to pack up shop because they are forcing us out of business," said Delroy Perez.
"Dem didn't talk to we before them build the place and a waste of money because we nah go down there," he added.
The Trelawny Municipal Corporation says there is an average of about 700 weekly vendors and the number climbs to approximately 1,000 during peak periods, which include the back-to- school or the Christmas.
Mayor of Falmouth Collen Gager said no decision has yet been made about the fees to be charged in the new market.
"We are trying to negotiate the different prices and asking them what they are willing and able to pay so that we can meet them halfway because we don't want the people complaining when they finally move down there," he said.