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Minister Francis promises to fix Kingstown Central Market

Minister Francis promises to fix Kingstown Central Market


by Jamila Soso-vincent 27.MAR.09

Although the Kingstown Central Market will be the hub of much activity over the Easter weekend, it will not be open to the public or to vendors. Instead, from April 10 – 13, 2009, the market will undergo a massive clean-up operation – the first it has received since it was opened in October 1999.{{more}}

A joint venture involving the Ministry of Health, the Physical Planning Unit, the Solid Waste Management Unit and the Kingstown Town Board, this exercise aims to improve the sanitation of the market and eradicate the pests that plague it.

At a public meeting held on Monday, March 24th, Julian Francis, Minister with responsibility for Physical Planning, informed vendors that they must remove all belongings from the ground floor of the market by the evening of Holy Thursday. He explained that those who wish to, could store their goods and other belongings under two large tents which will be erected in the Chamber of Commerce Car Park. Saturday, April 11th, which is the only working day over the Easter weekend, will see vegetable/fruit vendors operating from the car park.

Chief Environmental Officer Sidney Toney outlined the procedure and drove home the importance of the clean-up exercise. “You cannot sell clean food from a dirty environment! We must take all necessary action…” The clean-up will involve removing decaying food items, spraying chemicals, laying down 2 types of rat bait, draining the water from the hole underneath the market, power-washing, renovation of the toilet facilities, and completion of paintwork inside the market.

Toney acknowledged that the market has a serious problem with rats, roaches and mosquitoes, and assured the vendors that much effort is being put into this operation. However, he implored the vendors to keep their stalls clean afterwards to prevent the pests returning. “If pests don’t have food, then they cannot survive… Markets should be maintained by proper sanitation.” He further suggested that each vendor keep a garbage bin so that they and their customers could dispose of waste safely.

Supporting Toney’s plea for maintaining cleanliness, Francis revealed that waste would no longer be stored at the Central Market. Instead, it will be transferred to a storage area located behind the Kingstown Anglican School Annex. “When you come back on Tuesday, everything inside here will smell different… everything that is bad inside… fixed!” he promised. Francis, too, appealed to vendors and other market employees to pull their weight in order to prevent the market from returning to such a deplorable condition.

For the most part, the vendors were in full support of the clean-up exercise, but irate that it had taken so long to materialize. Many others aired their grievances, which ranged from abuse of the toilet facilities by vendors and vagrants, to schoolchildren vandalizing property and writing graffiti on the walls.

One vendor, Leon McAllister, aired his disappointment that officials have to plead with vendors to keep their areas clean when it is in their own interest to do so. “We need to change our attitude!” he berated. McAllister congratulated all parties involved with this venture, and expressed a desire to see Kingstown given such an overhaul.

Francis once again beseeched vendors who are blocking the market’s entrance to understand why they are being moved, and to make use of the available stalls within the Central Market. He emphasized that their needs are being considered but measures have to be taken for the greater good. Francis explained that some $3.5 million has been earmarked to build stalls for the displaced vendors at the front of the market, stalls for the vendors at the Little Tokyo Bus Terminal, and to extend the temporary produce market by linking it to the Fish Market.

Francis also divulged plans to rebuild the entire Little Tokyo Bus Terminal.