Kevon Reid, whose handcart a viral video shows being demolished this week, was in Grade 10 when he stopped attending Bog Walk High School, now known as Enid Bennett High in St. Catherine.
He said his mother didn’t have enough money to cover his financial needs, and it became more difficult for him to fulfill his initial dream of becoming a soldier.
He ventured full-time into vending in his hometown of Linstead, St. Catherine.
Reid told The Beacon that his choice of vending was a no-brainer, considering that he was doing it since he was in high school, and he also wanted to become his own boss.
“Mi get kick from school from Grade 10. From mi get kick, mi still deh yah same way [in Linstead vending]. Mi could goh tek up badness, but mi still deh yah a sell.
“Vending mek mi eat; it mek mi live; it pay mi bills; it throw mi partner,” said the 20-year-old.
As the years rolled by, Reid secured a big accomplishment in vending circles.
He became owner of a handcart – unlike some vendors who rent one for about $400 daily. A brand new handcart costs about $40,000, the vendors said.
Reid, who intends to eventually venture into farming to complement his current job, sells mainly vegetables and ground provisions.
GETTING THE GOODS
He, along with some of his colleagues, pursues the best deals – a mission that takes them to Coronation Market in Kingston, and to Manchester and St. Elizabeth.
When the goods are not delivered to them in Linstead, the vendors’ pockets feel the effect.
“To goh a town (Kingston), a $5,000 wi haffi pay [each for transportation]. Fi goh St. Elizabeth, wi haffi pay $16,000 to the bus-man, because wi don’t have a vehicle fi wiself,” Reid disclosed.
Sometimes the goods are purchased cash; sometimes the vendors buy them on credit.
Reid, along with some other vendors, often sell the goods on Fletcher’s Avenue – just outside the famous Linstead Market. The practice usually lands them in trouble with law enforcers.
Reid, who has been a vendor for seven years, told The Beacon that he has been detained at Linstead Police Station on different occasions – all because of issues relating to vending.
“Dem lock mi up. Mi sleep a station fi this (vending) like mi a prisoner. Mi mother haffi pay $40,000 fi get mi out,” he said.
On Monday this week, Reid lost his handcart and goods during an operation by the Municipal police, who are employed to the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation.
The officers destroyed at least three handcarts and their contents.
The other two vendors so far confirmed to have lost their handcarts are Phillip Hylton who has been vending for three years, and Igbal Lowe who has been a vendor for some 15 years.
A video, which shows a Municipal police using a sledgehammer to destroy Reids’ handcart and goods, has gone viral.
The Municipal police’s action has received widespread condemnation from several people, including local government minister Desmond McKenzie, who has promised to compensate the vendors.
The general consensus seems to be that the Municipal police should not have destroyed the handcart and goods, but should have prosecuted the vendors who were in breach.
Reid said he lost about $200,000 due to the action of the Municipal police.
He said he does not only want the promised monetary compensation; he wants an end to what he considers to be the disrespect meted out to vendors.
Reid claimed that the Municipal police destroy handcarts and goods regularly, but the only difference on this occasion is that their action was videotaped and published.
“A nuh the first. Every time dem come, dem mash up the cart dem and trample the goods. If yuh talk too loud, ratchet [knife] dem a tek out. Dem have dem baton and pepper spray… Everybody jus tek it cool, and tek the losses all the time,” Reid told The Beacon.
If vendors sell their goods in the market, they would have fewer clashes with the Municipal police.
They said they avoid the market mainly because it is overcrowded, especially on major shopping days such as Tuesdays. Some reasoned that consumers rarely go into the market to buy; they prefer to do so in the street.
Reid thinks the problem can be addressed if the authorities allow vendors to do business on Fletcher’s Avenue – the same street where the Municipal police demolished the handcarts.
That street is located just outside Linstead Market, and is often overrun by illegal vendors.
Reid thinks that street could be designated a vending zone.
He alluded to other places, including Kingston, where vending is allowed on some streets.
“In Kingston, yuh have a market street. Dem fi have a market street fi the people dem [sell in Linstead]. Why Linstead nuh [formally] have a market street? Mi nuh understand,” Reid further said.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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