The toll road wreck wi! - Vendor says only two of 30 stalls being used at Faith's Pen Rest Stop
While the opening of the Caymanas to Mammee Bay leg of the North-South Highway has drastically reduced travel time between Kingston and the north coast, it has also disrupted the livelihoods of vendors at the Faith's Pen rest stop.
Pauline, a vendor who had been selling at the rest stop for 15 years before the opening of the highway in 2015, said that she has had to resort to selling on the roadside to get a few sales.
But she lamented that sales of her beloved soup, roast corn and yam have dropped, as only a handful of customers make purchases throughout the day.
She said that other vendors have either stopped selling at Faith's Pen or have found other ways of getting an income.
"Yuh see some a di stall dem, dem deh people haffi move and go Claremont go jam up one likkle sup'm just fi survive. Out of the 30-odd stall weh out a Faith's Pen, two stall out deh open. Yuh have all a man weh a dweet from him a young boy, and him a old man now, over 70-odd now, and him nah gwaan wid nothing," she told THE STAR.
IN A TRAP
"It neva used to stay so. Di toll mash we up. It wreck wi. Wi inna one trap 'cause nobody nah lef dem yard siddung and can't sell nutten," she continued. She said that before the toll road was opened, their businesses were thriving, bringing in customers from all over the island, as well as foreigners.
"Time past when wi have wi stall, it pretty and tourist come in and tek picture a everything weh we have. Now we not even see one a drive pass, 'cause a toll dem used to," she said.
"Now mi roast yam and have all a dozen corn, and it nah sell 'cause nobody nuh deh fi come buy it. So it end up that at the end of the day, wi haffi give it weh or dash it weh."
She also argued that the plans put in place for the sellers when the toll road was being constructed are not adequate.
"Dem mek up stall over di toll and wi can't tek it. A $20,000 a month fi rent one. How wi a go tek dat and we can't mek $500 fi di day?" Pauline asked, while insisting that she will never relocate to the toll road, even if the rental cost is reduced.