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Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angela Brown-Burke, said the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) will be taking steps to ensure that the over 130 vendors, who will be selling in the newly renovated Redemption Arcade, will not be victims of extortionists.

“We want to make sure that there is one legal system of payment and that anyone, who collects from you, has the authority to collect from you and that what they collect from you will go to the appropriate authority, which is the legal one. It therefore means that we have to work together,” she said.

She was speaking on December 14 at the official handing over ceremony of the Redemption Arcade in downtown Kingston by the Digicel Foundation, which is spearheading the renovation project.

The Mayor noted that oftentimes, the vendors quarrel about the fees being imposed by the local authority, but quickly pay over money demanded of them by extortionists. She pointed out that if the only fees they had to pay were those imposed by the KSAC then it would not be so onerous.

The market was renovated at a cost of US$500,000 with funds provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The Digicel Foundation was the project manager with partnership from the KSAC and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

The Mayor asked for patience from vendors as they negotiate the market fees to be charged. “We want to make it affordable because we understand the individuals that are coming in here,” she said. 

She noted that the KSAC is not interested in making a profit from the arcade as it just wanted to be able to cover the daily operational expense.

She told the vendors that the KSAC will be having further discussion with them on how to make the market fees affordable, “because I believe that you have to understand all the costs that are involved in operating it so that you can make some choices about how we proceed and what cost we are able to pass on to you”.

The Mayor stated that “100 per cent of the vendors”, who want to vend in the market will have to be registered. She informed that a vendor committee will be put in place to take care of the market.

"We have moved to re-establish the vendor committees and we want to make sure that the vendor committee for the Redemption Arcade really takes responsibility for what happens in the arcade. So I want you to really step up to the plate, because  some of the issues about  electricity usage, water; you are going to have to help us manage that, because that is the only way to ensure that we keep those costs as low as possible," she stated.

In the meantime, Executive Director, Digicel Foundation, Samantha Chantrelle, in handing over the arcade, said the project embodies what is good about development.

She pointed out that it had the public and private sectors and an  international development agency "coming together with a speedy response and the ability to deliver on time".

She promised to use the company’s public relations machinery to let everyone know about Redemption Arcade.