Tue | Oct 16, 2018

Ray Ray market vendors devastated after massive fire - Claims of sabotage swirl

Published:Wednesday | August 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
A little girl stands in the midst of burnt-out clothes and zinc after the fire.
Firefighters continue the cooling-down process after a fire destroyed the Ray Ray Ground market in downtown Kingston yesterday.
This vendor shovels away debris after a fire destroyed the Ray Ray Ground market in downtown Kingston yesterday.
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The Ray Ray Ground market in downtown Kingston was the scene of a massive fire yesterday morning that left scores of vendors with hands on their jaws, contemplating their next move, having lost almost everything pertaining to their commercial activities at the facility.

Between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. yesterday, some vendors who were at home readying themselves to go to work received worrying news of the devastation. They claim that a series of fires at the facility was clear indication that someone or a group of persons wanted them off the property, by any means necessary.

"Mi lose three barrels and whole heap of other things. Mi vex because every year over yah suh burn down. When we burn out, we nuh get nothing. All the while we have fire here, but this time, it burn down flat-flat," an angry Juliet Jones told The Gleaner.

Her colleague Torajee McLeish speculated that forces were at work to destabilise them before school restarts in September.

 

TOO MANY FIRES

 

"We lose millions of dollars. A regular this happen. Me have five kids fi go school and other people in here have kids to go school. How dem expect we fi maintain our kids when we lose everything. We lose liquor and barrels of clothes, shoes and bags; anything new or worn," recounted McLeish.

"But it look like whoever set the fire want us to turn to prostitution and the man dem go do other things. Di people dem want di place fi build a big arcade, where people will have to pay $2,000 and $3,000. We can't afford that. We sell old clothes so we can't pay that kind of money," she argued.

Audrey has been vending at Ray Ray Ground market for many years, and she too believes that the facility catches fire far too often.

"A back-to-school time now. Every year, all three times it burn. The people dem goods and stalls damage bad. If them want the land, dem supposed to tell the people that they want their land. Somebody want the land, but don't know how to tell us to come off. So, this time around, the whole market burn down.

"This is wickedness, done spitefully. They sprinkled gas all around Ray Ray Ground, from Pechon Street to West Street, di place bun dung. We hear in the streets that people want to turn it into a car park... . I know it wasn't God who sent brimstone down here," argued Audrey.

A preliminary report from the police yesterday said that fire of unknown origin destroyed the Ray Ray market located along West Street in downtown Kingston.

The fire was seen coming from the market and the police and fire department were contacted. Forty firefighters fought the blaze. All stalls, containers, and shops, along with contents, were completely burnt. No official cause of the fire has been identified and no estimate of the damage given.

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com