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Heroes Circle crab vendors' stalls demolished as the city continues its spruce-up for Obama

April 7, 2015 5:00 AM
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Heroes Circle crab vendors' stalls demolished as the city continues its spruce-up for Obama

But even as they squeal, The Gleaner has been informed that this is only temporary as Member of Parliament for Western Kingston Desmond McKenzie where their business is located, is scheduled to meet with them as well as with Mayor of Kingston Angella Brown Burke and Local Government Minister Noel Arscott.

McKenzie, the Opposition Spokesman on Local Government and a former Mayor of Kingston, told The Gleaner that he would be meeting with the vendors before holding talks with the Government officials.

Disclosing that both Brown Burke and Arscott have contacted him, McKenzie expressed confidence that the dislocation is a temporary one that will make way for more “acceptable” arrangements in the future.

McKenzie expressed understanding of the discomfort brought about by the preparation for Obama’s impending visit and appreciation for the consultations initiated by Brown Burke and Arscott.

Female vendors who operate near the National Heroes Circle, mourned, not in anticipation of Obama’s historic visit but because the locale where they sell crab, roasted, boil corn, roasted yam and saltfish as well as soup is no more.

With Obama scheduled to pay a visit to the National Heroes Park on Thursday, the prominent setting where many colossal Jamaicans are interred, the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Council (KSAC) moved in yesterday to demolish old stalls.

The 44th US President is only the third to visit Jamaica while in office – the others being Ronald Reagan and Franklyn Delano Roosevelt.

Only remnants of years of vending activities were to be seen when The Gleaner arrived at the area – old pail, tarpaulins and few broken boards were evident. Vendors were dejected as they told our news team that they woke at about 6 O’clock to witness their stalls being torn away by tractors, less than 48 hours after they were “rudely told to move”.

Report that the vendors would be allowed to return to their old stomping ground should serve as good news for many of who have been selling at the “historic” location for more than 40 years. Prior to that news, however, they vented their frustration about losing their livelihood.

For 40-year-old vendor, Racquel Walker, better known to her customers as Marsha, it was a double whammy as her mother who was, a vendor herself died last Wednesday. Before the effects of her mother’s passing could sink in, Marsha was hit with news that she would not be allowed to make a living there.

“What we going do now, we can’t go down to Parliament to ask them for lunch money for our kids to go school,” added Marsha.

Alice Waugh, another vendor, lives in Spanish Town but makes her way to National Heroes Circle to make a living . So does her 26-year-old daughter Shanakay, as well as Precious Stewart, resident of Marverley.

They said they were unable to comprehend why the little area which had been the subject of many media features both internationally and locally has suddenly become unacceptable with the impeding visit of the US President.

“We have sold crab and corn to lawyers, doctors and even politicians over the years, why has the place now become an eyesore and why were we told only two days before on Holy Thursday?” asked Marsha.

“Are we to starve when President Obama returns to his home?” chipped in Day Girl.

The vendors said they were told to attend a meeting today at 10 at the now abandoned site.

Well trimmed lawns of National Heroes Park and new-look roads all the way through to the Harbour View Round-about where vendors were also dislocated, clearly paved the way Obama’s impending arrival.


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