Current Affairs

Current Affairs



PM instructs Bertram to 'clean up' downtown Kingston
BYRON BUCKLEY, Senior Political reporter
Thursday, May 23, 2002



PATTERSON... I think that is the limit

PRIME Minister P J Patterson has denounced the blocking of the entrances to the Kingston Parish Church by vendors and has instructed his minister of local government, Arnold Bertram, to have the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and the security forces address the matter.

In addition, Bertram is expected to present a report to Cabinet next Monday to form the basis of a "realistic and implementable timetable" to relocate the vendors who trade their wares on the sidewalks in downtown Kingston,

BERTRAM... to present report to Cabinet Monday

"It is completely unacceptable... that people should be blocking the ingress and the eagerness of those who seek to worship," noted Patterson, "and then to be turning around and seeking to impose conditions as to how much notice they must be given before times of worship in order to allow the congregation to enter and to leave."

"I think that is the limit," the prime minister told directors of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce yesterday during their monthly board meeting at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.

Streetside vending has consistently plagued downtown Kingston and the matter came to a head last October when merchants threatened to close their stores to pressure government to fast-track measures to remove vendors from the streets.

At the twelfth hour Prime Minister Patterson met with representatives of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce and hammered out an agreement to relocate the vendors.

Under the agreement Patterson committd to naming a board of directors for the newly established Kingston and St Andrew Markets Company and promised to capitalise the entity with $20 million. He also promised the chamber that the refurbishing of markets and repair of roads and drains, for which government granted $20 million, would be completed by November 4.

But attempts by the KSAC to relocate vendors in seven refurbished markets failed in early November, following the breaking of the earlier removal deadline in the previous month.

The downtown merchants and the chamber backed off their earlier insistence for the removal of the vendors before Christmas, arguing that the authorities had missed the window of opportunity for removal in October.

"As every peak period approaches, it becomes increasingly difficult to have the movement take place at that particular moment in time," Patterson told the businessmen yesterday. "You are going to have to make up your mind that it has to be done and you have to insist on a timetable that is practical and implementable," he told the business leaders.

"We have committed ourselves to doing it and I would like to see (it) implemented with greater urgency."