Works Ministry moves against vendors
tearful woman says she got permission
July 14, 2004
Fruit vendors operating on Irving Street between Woolford Avenue and Lamaha Street had their produce seized and their stalls dismantled yesterday by workers from the Ministry of Public Works.
Some of the vendors operated on the reserves for almost twelve years.
One woman who started business there some two years ago, complained bitterly about the unfair treatment by officials at the Ministry of Works. She said that Minister Clinton Collymore and the Town Clerk gave her permission to operate on the reserves.
“Over the past two years the constables seize the goods several times and whenever I go to the town clerk she does give me back the goods without me paying a cent, and I does come back pon the road fuh sell.”
When asked whether she has any documents to prove that permission was granted, the woman said that the officials at City Hall and the Minister told her that “everything will be fine” and she does not require any written permission. She added that the officials have even advised her to build a shed for her comfort.
Roads Engineer Mr. Lloyd Rollins said that the Minster of Works has given specific instructions that the vendors must be removed, since it is illegal to occupy government reserves. He added that an ultimatum, which expired last month, was given to the vendors to remove from the location, but they failed to adhere to the directive, hence the dismantling exercise.
The woman, responding to the engineer’s comment, said that after she received the ultimatum notice, she went to the Town Clerk and other officials at the Ministry of Works including Minster Collymore and permission was granted to her to remain at the location.
The engineer then argued that the vendors failed to understand that the area does not fall under the Mayor and City Council but rather under the Ministry of Public Works.
“I have no other alternative, how they expect me to survive? I am a single parent with four children and three grandchildren to take care of. I can’t steal I can’t pick fair, all I am doing is working for an honest bread,” the tearful woman said.
Meanwhile, another vendor on the other side of the road was allowed to continue his business. When asked why the Ministry appeared to be acting selectively, the official said that the vendor across the road is not occupying government reserves.
As was expected, there were the usual criticisms of discrimination and unfair treatment by the other vendors who were forced to vacate the area.