Burnt out vendors get new shops in May Pen Market ... but only some of them
Some 16 new shops were officially handed over to vendors in the May Pen Municipal Market yesterday, replacing those that were destroyed when fire gutted a section of the market in March last year .
However, the 16 shops represent less than half of the 39 shops that were destroyed in the fire.
In his defence, Mayor of May Pen and Chairman of the Clarendon Parish Council Scean Barnswell said those who were replaced were given to legitimately registered shop owners and operators. He said the additional 23 shops were constructed without permission from the council and the operators were illegally conducting businesses in the facility.
"After the fire, a tour of the market revealed that the additional shops were built and rented to other individuals. These persons, neither (the) owners nor the operators were paying market fees to the council," said Mayor Barnswell.
The wooden structures were replaced by metal containers that were retrofitted for the desired purposes at a cost of approximately $5 million, which was funded by the Ministry of Local Government.
The new structure and layout of the shops will benefit the shoppers in a way that will offer ease of doing business in a spacious, clean environment.
The completion of this project is only the first phase in a series of projects that will be implemented in the May Pen market, in an effort to transform the entire facility. The facility will remain in use while the repairs and retrofitting are being done.
The shops handed over to the vendors are specifically for skilled-service providers such hairdressers, dressmakers, and tailors. Special emphasis was placed on encouraging the vendors to take care of the facilities, protect them from vandals and keep them clean as well as to remain compliant by keeping current with their market-fee payments.
Plans are also in the making to sectionalise the entire market so that all service providers will be in a separate area from fish vendors or those that sell clothing, haberdashery, and ground provisions.
Local Government Minister Noel Arscott, who was in attendance to oversee the official opening and handing over of the shops, also encouraged the vendors and shoppers alike to take care of the new facility going forward. He warned that increased fines will be implemented in the short term for littering and urinating in public.