A number of disgruntled vendors are claiming that officers of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation mercilessly destroyed about 10 handcarts and their contents today on Fletcher’s Avenue in the vicinity of Linstead Market, St. Catherine.
“A whole heap a cart mash up – about 10,” said Igbal Lowe, whose handcart was among those demolished.
He said the Municipal police told him that his handcart licence had expired, and that he owes the municipal corporation.
Lowe, who contends that he had renewed his licence, told The Beacon that he is disappointed with the action of the officers, who are commonly called ‘Metro’.
“Mi jus a sell wid mi cart and Metro come and hold on pon it, mash up mi cart,” he lamented, adding: “Mi couldn’t do anything, soh mi jus mek dem gwaan duh wah dem doing.”
Lowe, who buys and sells vegetables, spices and other produce, said the loss he suffered amounts to about $27,000 – covering the handcart and goods.
“Mi buy some of the goods and credit some; all those money gone,” he added. “Them didn’t have the courtesy fi seh time tough and wi fi come off the street and goh inside the market.”
Lowe complained that the market is too small to facilitate social distancing, which is among measures aimed at minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
He added that, since the outbreak of the virus locally, the main entrance to the Linstead Market is being closed during the daytime, thereby limiting comfortable access.
Lowe said he did not witness any vendor being arrested, but several had their goods seized.
Another vendor, Marva Clarke, supports the view that the market is too small to facilitate social distancing on major shopping days.
She complained that one of the officers leading the operation today was disrespectful, adding that no mercy was shown to the vendors, especially considering that many of them suffered relatively huge losses due to COVID-19.
Clarke reasoned that the virus has resulted in a hike in food prices, and so the vendors who lost their handcarts were hard hit.
“They lost a lot of vegetables which are expensive because a pound of Irish is for $300 and a pound of carrot is for $300. You have people that come from St. Elizabeth to sell here [in Linstead]. Most of us credit and sell and then pay,” Clarke further posited.
She agreed that some vendors are unruly, but made it clear that she does not support their goods being destroyed.
The St. Catherine Municipal Corporation, in the meantime, told The Beacon that it has requested a report on the operation by its officers, who were accompanied by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
That report should be completed by Friday this week, said Chairman of the corporation, Norman Scott. He also appealed for the affected vendors to contact him.
“I have seen the video and I requested a report on the incident. As a matter of fact, I have asked that the vendors involved are to come and see me as soon as they can,” said Scott, who is also Mayor of Spanish Town.
By Horace Mills, Journalist
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