KINGSTON — Business operators in sections of downtown Kingston yesterday expressed frustration over the filthy state of and general lawlessness in the country’s main commercial hub with at least one large store owner saying he had lost hope and would be shuttering his operation.
The operators said that despite constant calls for the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and other authorities to restore discipline, wanton disregard for law and order continued to thrive in sections of the city.
The store operators, as well as sidewalk vendors, also said they were concerned that not enough was being done to provide basic services that will ensure public health is maintained in the city where thousands of people do business daily.
“Look at the place. How can we continue to operate under this condition? This is the worst we have seen downtown,” said Laurence Heffes, operator of Heffes Sales and Company Ltd.
His frustration was echoed by Robert Walker, who operates a store on Beckford Street.
“The situation has gone from bad to worse. Look at the massive garbage pile-up on the roadway; look at the streets covered with raw sewage; when is something going to be done to address this problem?” he asked.
Bernard Williams, a member of the Chamber of Commerce who operates Care Furniture Company Ltd, was livid.
“Something has to be done to address this problem,” said Williams as he stopped his car along Beckford Street where large piles of fly-infested garbage lay across the street.
Next to the filth, vendors called out to passing shoppers, trying to secure sales. They seemed oblivious to the raw sewage mixed with mud running along Beckford and Princess streets where a mother sat feeding her baby.
Strong stench from the sewage forced a customer to make a hasty retreat from a section of Beckford Street where a soup vendor prepared to share a cup of soup.
In the middle of it all, Mark Azan stepped out from his store – Azan’s – and looked at the road, frustration etched on his face.
“My family has been operating at this location for more than 50 years, but I have lost hope,” said Azan. “I have decided to call it a day. I am closing down. I cannot fight this lawlessness and indiscipline anymore.”
The vocal businessman, like several of his colleagues, said enough was enough.
“During the holidays, the situation became so bad we had to use carts to transport the goods from our store,” said Heffes in reference to the raw sewage running on the streets.
On Princess Street, workers employed to Gassan Azan were clearing large piles of mud in front of Sweet Tings, Azan’s bakery and pastry outlet.
“This is what the businessman has to be doing. If is the authorities him waiting on, nothing would happen,” said one of the workers.
One businessman who asked not to be named said: “Officials say they are serious, but when you look downtown, indiscipline is everywhere. The Jamaica Public Service, they come and pressure who are legitimate operators while illegal service is widely used among vendors.”
He said that the illegal practice has left legitimate operators worried that a fire would break out at anytime from a short circuit. (Observer)