Vendors happy for refurbished arcade
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Juliet Harvey was among more than 130 vendors who will be getting ready to set up shop in the newly refurbished Redemption Arcade in downtown Kingston, which was opened Friday.
"The amount of tarpaulin I had to buy to sell here ... . I have been here over eight years and the conditions weren't so pretty, but I am very glad for this change. It's tremendous!" a cheerful Harvey said.
Likewise, Larlane Hay, who has been selling in the market for more than seven years, said that she welcomed the change and promised to maintain a healthy environment.
"I really appreciate all the persons who have put together to make this possible, and we are really grateful, and we promise we are going to keep it in the state that we get it," she declared.
The Redemption Arcade, located in the heart of downtown Kingston - once used as a market for ground provision - will be a haberdashery.
The project was implemented by the Digicel Foundation, in partnership with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and the Urban Development Corporation, through US$500,000 in funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
United States ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, encouraged persons to get on-board to make downtown a place of business. She said the US is committed to offering assistance to transform the area.
"As many would fondly remember, downtown Kingston was known as the 'go-to' district to conduct business. Unfortunately, it suffered several challenges and hardships, resulting in businesses and consumers relocating to other areas," Bridgewater said.
"There is so much potential for growth of businesses here in downtown Kingston. USAID, and by the extension, the United States government, is committed to assisting in growing the area by encouraging new investment in a vibrant downtown," she added.
Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke urged the vendors to keep the market clean and stressed the importance of being registered.
"We want the market to be somewhere that everybody can be comfortable, so I am asking all vendors to ensure that its kept in the condition you got it. " she said.
"We also want to ensure that 100 per cent of those in here are registered vendors because that has been a challenge. We want to ensure that they don't extort you, and so we want to ensure that there is one system of payment, and this means we need to work together," said Brown Burke.
She also emphasised that she was cognisant that times were hard and would try to make vending affordable.
"We want to make it affordable because we understand the individuals that are coming in here, and so we are about discussion and dialogue in making vending here as affordable as possible," she said.