What kind of madness is this? Why is it Downtown Kingston has become a ‘science’ project? What makes this zone, this once gem of the capital such a heartache, headache, ulcer and cancerous sore in modern Jamaica? Downtown Kingston was once upon a time the place to hang out, party, where brilliant minds would meet at their favourite ‘rum bar’ and shoot the breeze. Oceana Hotel used to carry a nice little vibe back in the day, and a popular high school had their graduation ball a few decades ago right there. How have we arrived at this destination? I am going to drop my 2 cents.
Politics, and the lack of will to enforce the rule of law. Simple. We can pussy foot around the root cause. While you do I say blame should be cast around both political parties for the continued demise. Sad to say like many diseases, it takes root over time and often grows and grows until death and destruction takes over. This proposal is a ‘fairy tale’ one and I suggest not to reinvent the wheel and deal with the lawlessness, indiscipline and eat a food culture that has been allowed to germinate by both sides of the table while feeding the respective seeds. Wey di parking deh at this very moment? How many persons do business downtown at our government agencies and bemoan the lack of parking? Imagine running a business in that district? Our court houses are based in the district, so too are our financial institutions; premier hospital, Kingston Public I might add. Downtown Kingston like many ‘downtown’ in other countries should be the flagship of our country. Instead when you attempt to venture into certain areas, our markets in particular and surrounding, it is absolute filth. Business MUST and should not be allowed to ‘rule’ in such an environment. Your trade is your trade and it should be respected by yourself. Market vendors are no less than store owners as the ‘customer’ is the same when the dollar comes out. At the end of the day, you are opening your business to make a sale and all sides, the vendor, store owner and customer must abide by certain rules and regulations. Without, we are left with chaos, anarchy, unsafe and an unattractive environment in which to conduct business.
Come aff di sidewalk dem, lef di middle a di road and go ina your allocated zone and wok. If prospective buyers do not want to buy their goods from the allocated markets, den dwag mus nyam dem supper. We are continuing to govern this country with no rules for some and rules for another. Intimidation, threats of not voting whenever one party is in power each time enforcement needs to take place is insanity. You must pay to operate your business whether you are a market vendor or otherwise. You must ensure the environment is CLEAN and kept so. Adequate bathroom facilities a necessity, and vehicular traffic must be allowed to traverse up and down each and every road and or street in this country. It is not carnival, street parade. Jamaica is a small Island. Wey u a talk bout block off street an only foot people can pass through. Stop the damn foolishness!!!!!!!
Wheel and come again, and while you are it. Enforce the existing laws that are on the books. Desist from rewarding and awarding indiscipline and calling it culture. A u run tings, or are u in charge fi mek tings run u??????
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Mayor’s plan to pedestrianise some streets draws anger, support
(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, March 05, 2017 49 Comments
A plan by Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams to prevent vehicular traffic from traversing some streets in the bustling commercial downtown Kingston district appears to be heading into a maelstrom as there are sharply divided views on the proposal.
Vendors who already clog the streets with their goods laid out on tarpaulin say the plan makes sense, while some of their colleagues agree with store owners and operators that the idea is absolute madness and unworkable.
“We want to pedestrianise Beckford Street, as well as some sections of other streets in the area, including Temple Lane, Peters Lane, etcetera. We have been working on it for sometime now,” Councillor Williams, who not only chairs the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Council, formerly Kingston and St Andrew Corporation, but is also a member of the Senate, told the
Jamaica Observer last Tuesday.
“It’s all a part of bringing some order to the city, because we can’t continue like this. Vendors are all over the streets. There is the municipal police, but when they take any action, as soon as they leave the vicinity the vendors just go right back and take up the spaces again. That is not conducive to order,” the mayor said.
“There are vendors who have been selling on the streets for 15 years and more, and we are hoping that by formalising the situation we can encourage them to become part of a more orderly environment, which would also encourage younger vendors to do the same and earn more money, pay their vending fees and boost the corporation’s revenues,” Williams pointed out.
He said, however, that it is a fact that there is not enough market space to accommodate all vendors, therefore the municipal council would have to seek to turn some streets, which currently cater to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic, into pedestrianised streets.
“There are streets downtown which we could easily turn into being accessed only by pedestrians and turn over to the vendors,” he said, noting that one of his predecessors, current Local Government and Community Development Minister Desmond McKenzie, had also attempted to get the vendors off the streets and into legalised locations without success. However, he said that failure was primarily due to a lack of resources to sustain the effort.
He said that with McKenzie seeing eye to eye with him on the matter, there is a much better chance of them succeeding in reducing the crowding on the streets.
However, he admitted that the council would need a lot more resources than is now at its disposal to sustain the transformation of the area.
“Business cannot be done in disorder, and so we need to start by restoring order in the city,” Senator Williams said recently.
“We have already got buy-in from the vendors. They know that although downtown Kingston is the largest shopping area outside of Half-Way-Tree, it can be better if there is more order,” he added.
However, yesterday when the
Sunday Observer spoke to vendors on Beckford Street they said they were hearing about the plan for the first time. The majority of them, though, welcomed the proposal.
“Dat woulda a good yes,” said one vendor who gave his name as Jason. “It can work out. It would be a good idea if dem stop the vehicles from coming through.”
Another vendor, who gave her name only as Jean, agreed.
“A di best thing dat the mayor ever do,” she said.
Asked why she said that, she explained: “Because it would help the vendors; vendors get a fight fi a long time.”
The idea was also supported by a male vendor who gave his name as Blacks and whose stock of female underwear occupied a spot almost in the middle of the street. “Dat’s a good idea, a very good idea,” he said.
Sunday Observer asked them about the concern expressed by some store owners that the measure would affect the delivery of goods, the vendors said that should not pose a problem.
“No man, dem good, because when the truck come wi jus go pan di sidewalk, gi dem dem space, mek dem do weh dem a do, den wi come back inna di road,” Blacks said.
Jean shared a similar view.
“We wi gi dem space, dem nuh have no problem,” she said. “A years dis a gwaan and wi gi dem space fi get dem things. It can work. Wi nah fight gainst the store owner dem; dem nuh fi fight gainst wi. Wi always gi dem space.”
Jason agreed. “If dem put up a sign that say ‘delivery only’, it can work.”
But Andrea, who also sells on the street, disagreed.
“It cyaan work because this is a vehicular road. Not only that, when the people dem get dem container dem, where are they gonna put their goods?” she asked. “There are several stores along this street. You tell me, when you lock off the street, how are they going to get their containers?
“Di mayor know it cyaan work [but] because him feel seh him get a position him jus waan talk. Ah di same ting, nutten nah change, believe mi,” she said, triggering views for and against the proposal among her colleagues standing nearby on the cluttered street.
A store clerk at Sports Fashion said a man from the KSAC came and spoke to her about a month ago.
“He was asking about what we think would be the feedback from the people on the street,” she said. “I told him it depends on how they plan to do it and him say like him a go mek batches of spots, people pay for them spot, and him give the store owner first preference. He was saying that somewhere in the evening part they would have a barricade, so if yu goods come they would have to be let in.”
Andy at Sharon Gel shared the concern about the delivery of goods. However, he said that if a system could be established to allow delivery vehicles free passage, then maybe the plan could work. “But we have to do it orderly,” he said, adding “we understand that the markets are not really up to standard for the vendors and they are trying to make a dollar for themselves”.
However, Kimberley, a spokeswoman for a wholesale, was not convinced that the idea made sense.
“In terms of delivery and goods coming in, mi nuh think it can block off completely, because when the goods truck come, which part it a go go?” she asked.
She also expressed doubt that the vendors would clear the street for delivery vehicles.
“It not going to work because vendors not going to stay on the sidewalk as how they’re supposed to, or it going to tek dem a time to move the goods outta di road because dem don’t want to. If a vehicle come, it wi inna di road a beep, beep, beep fi all two minutes before somebody move dem tarpaulin outta di road, so mi nuh tink it suppose to lock off,” she said.
Bashco owner Gassan Azan, one of the largest business operators downtown, had a number of concerns, including the delivery of merchandise, public safety, and the absence of consultation.
“He’s saying pedestrianise. These are vending zones that he’s creating, so when you create a vending zone in the middle of the road, how do your emergency services function, how do the police get in and out of there? Has all of that been determined before you make that announcement?” Azan stated.
“My take is that it’s a political thing without the proper and necessary consultations that need to be done,” Azan said, adding that the measure could lead to the business community filing class action suits against the mayor and the council. “And you don’t really want to create a conflict between the formal and the informal sector.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Williams said a KSAC team will be meeting soon with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), to discuss the cleanliness and beauty of the city.
He said that the NSWMA will clean the city daily, if required, while the TPDCo will select some areas for beautification and provide the requisite funds. That arrangement, he added, would set the foundation for a raft of initiatives, one of which is the restoration of Kingston Harbour to being a cruise ship port.
“We are taking steps to clean the harbour, and investors have indicated their interest to come on board. This will be the catalyst in making Kingston a tourist destination once more,” the mayor said.
Senator Williams added that as part of the redevelopment of the city, he also saw the need to take care of the less fortunate people who make the streets their home.