Good ol' days - Vendors remember good days, lament new structure
Dave Lindo, Gleaner Writer
PORUS, Manchester:PORUS MARKET was once one of the most popular facilities in Manchester.
However, it is now a shade of what it was in the past when people from all walks of life used to visit the market to get their fresh fruits, vegetables, ground provisions, and meat kind.
The market currently houses just a handful of vendors who harbour wishful thoughts of seeing the facility return to its glory days.
One of the licensed vendors, Thelma Smith, has been at the market for 14 years. Her stall is located at the front of the facility. Smith recently lamented the slow pace of business. "Right now, nothing nah gwaan. First time, by midday, I used to sell off most of my goods, but it slow bad now. However, we still have to go on. It better than you doing nothing."
Smith added: "This market used to run so good. Right now, it's pine time. You used to have pine, mangoes, and other fruits on one side, ground provision and vegetables on another side. It was lovely. The slaughter house and a meat market used to be very busy as well."
Smith's father, Hubert, was one of the top butchers at the Porus Market, along with the father of Eileen Ramsay, a popular figure in the town who worked as a butcher in the market for years.
Ramsay attributed the decline in business at the facility, especially the meat section, to the closure of the nearby Windalco Kirkvine plant. "From Alcan (Kirkvine) shut down, everything get knock," Ramsay said. "We used to kill cow, goat, and pig and deliver to Kirkvine. We even got orders from the Ewarton plant. It's that money mi use and build mi house. We used to even supply Super Plus (food store) in Mandeville."
Courtney Bygrave, a vendor at the market, also remembers when Porus Market was doing well. "I am coming to this market from I was a youth," Bygrave said. "This market was real market. From John Junor (former People's National Party member of parliament for Central Manchester), all dem big man deh used to come here. This was the cleanest market in Manchester, and people loved to come here."
Bygrave sells at the facility every day. He said many of the vendors who used to sell at the market are plying their trade elsewhere.
"Vendors used to come from all over - Mount Pleasant, Coffee Grove, Banana Ground. Many come from Porus, but some of them stop coming here gone on to faster markets like Mandeville, May Pen, or Kingston," Bygrave explained.
He added: "Right now, it's just some repair work it need, some fix up and paint up. I think it's bad management why the place run down, so that's why less people coming here, because of the state of the market. The market has good bathroom facilities, water is here. We need the fish market to be repaired and a cook shop to be set up to make things better."
PNP Councillor for the Porus division, Muriel Swaby, disclosed that plans are in place to give the market a facelift. "Two weeks ago, we did a cleaning up campaign at the market through the Manchester Parish Council, bushing from abattoir right up to main market," Swaby said.
"I can't say now when the general repair of the market will start, but I can safely say that plans are in place to refurbish the market and bring it up to scratch."