Falmouth market needs urgent attention – vendors
The Falmouth Municipal Market in Trelawny, which was handed over to the parish’s municipal authorities in an incomplete state in 2018, is now a source of much discontent for vendors and shoppers, who are facing a myriad of challenges.
When the contractors handed over the market, which was built by the Port Authority of Jamaica, Falmouth’s Mayor Colin Gager was reluctant to accept it in the state that it was, which had only two-thirds of the roof covered and not enough stalls to satisfy the needs of the vendors.
However, with no additional work of note done on the market since it was handed over, a situation that has landed the municipality and the contractor in court, the incomplete infrastructure is making life difficult for the users of the market.
One disgruntled vendor, Nicole Campbell, said she wrote a letter to the mayor on October 29 complaining about the conditions at the facility, but is yet to get an answer. In the letter, which she shared with The Gleaner, she called for immediate attention to fix the problem, which she says is getting worse as the days go by.
When The Gleaner visited the market last weekend, some disgruntled female vendors complained that the toilets had fallen into a state of disrepair, making it a potential health risk.
“When we use the toilet, we have to use a bucket to fetch water from a drum to do the flushing,” said one woman, who asked not to be identified, out of fear of being discriminated against by management. “There is no running water to wash hands in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another vendor also complained about the deplorable state of the entrance to the market, which is now riddled with potholes that become murky pools of mud whenever it rains.
“There are nine constantly expanding potholes on the driveway from the entrance to the exit,” pointed out a male vendor. “I know when the potholes started small. I guess they are waiting for the National Works Agency to come and fix them.”
The market, which was constructed as a replacement for the previous market, which was dismantled to facilitate expansion work on the Falmouth cruise shipping pier, has been a hotbed of problems from the construction phase, and much have not changed since.
SIPHONED OFF MONIES
Last May, the mayor went public with a declaration that he had uncovered a racket at the market, where monies which were destined for the municipality’s coffers were being siphoned off by dishonest staffers.
“We have discovered that unscrupulous employees have colluded with vendors to siphon off fees for their own purposes,” said Gager, who promptly reshuffled the implicated staffers while pledging to institute a cashless system.
“I am going to institute a cashless system for vendors to pay their $2,000 weekly fee. Negotiations are ongoing with a major financial institution to put the system in place,” stated Gager.
However, during The Gleaner’s visit, there were no signs of the promised cashless system as market fees were still being collected in cash. The situation was much the same in the car park, where motorists were being charged $50 per hour for parking.