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Commuters welcome change but feel for vendors


BARRY ALLEYNE, [email protected]

Commuters welcome change but feel for vendors

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COMMUTERS USING the condemned Constitution River Van Stand are glad the facility is getting a makeover.

But they are still concerned about how small business persons will be affected when Government forces vendors to find another place to sell their wares during the rebuilding phase.

In addition, the operators of public service vehicles are asking for more lighting in all public areas of the stand, especially since Government’s latest move has seen some route taxi (ZR) operators being moved to a new area to serve customers.

A SUNDAY SUN team visited the facility recently and commuters there welcomed the closure of the van stand because of health concerns and were looking forward to using the new facility.

The decision to close the existing terminal was made after a report by the Ministry of Health’s Environmental Protection Department deemed the facility a serious health risk. A decision was made to completely redesign the facility next year.

“It will be a serious inconvenience but it’s better for the health of people in the long run,” said Roger Williams moments after stepping off a Howells and Ivy ZR.

“The main problem I had with the van stand was the amount of water always around. There are so many mosquitoes that could breed in this stagnant water. Dengue (fever) is one thing, but Zika ain’t easy,” the young commuter said.

Also of concern to him was Government making a decision to redesign the facility before finding a concrete solution to determine the fate of the numerous vendors who operated there.

“It’s not good to have so many business people not knowing exactly where their next dollar will come from. This Government has always said they are here for the small man. They need to show that.”

Maurice Gaskin, an environmentalist at heart, said he agreed with the decision to completely redesign the entire area based on the results of the inspection done by the Environmental Protection Department.

“The challenges faced by Government and the persons who use the van stand every day were obvious,” Gaskin said. “The health standards, with so much litter and vermin around, simply were not good enough. The decision to do it all over is a smart move,” Gaskin said.

“What needs to be done now is looking at how best to keep the necessary health standards in place and for the work to be done in a timely manner.”

Gaskin said that for the sake of the vendors there, any physical redesign should be completed outside of the busy Christmas and Crop Over periods.

“The best way forward is for most of the work to be done during dead business periods,” he suggested.

Fruit vendor Roger Cruickshank, though admitting that the health of commuters and vendors should come first, said he was still disturbed that no decision on relocation had been communicated to them.

“It’s not here yet, but it’s coming. I don’t really know what to do. I can’t figure out just where to go,” Cruickshank said. “The great thing about working here was that customers came here to get home. When I have to move I don’t know that customers will still be able to come to me,” the vendor said.

A Rastafarian commuter who chose to speak anonymously said the circumstances that led to the health problems should be highlighted.

“The van stand ain’t now start flooding. The water has been coming all the way down for years. And now look what happen. Food has to be taken out of poor people mouth. I know that not getting sick is important, but I’m not happy vendors will have to start over,” the middle-aged man said.

Roger Marshall, a ZR worker, also welcomed the move, but said Government should now pay attention to improving the lighting at the site since vehicles had been moved to a new position.

Last week, ZRs plying the Howells and Ivy, Forde’s Road, Rendezvous, Dash Valley and Market Hill routes were moved westward at the terminal, allowing commuters to embark closer to the Charles Duncan ONeal Bridge.

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