Warrens coconut vendors fed up with one 'dirty' vendor
Vendors chatting with Health Inspectors on the sidelines as the team from the Sanitation Services Authority clears the area.
The old adage ‘Peter pays for Paul and Paul pays for all’ was played out this morning in Warrens, according to some coconut vendors who were not pleased about today’s cleanup initiative by the Ministry of Health along with the Sanitation Services Authority (SSA).
Pointing fingers and casting blame on one vendor in particular, the vendors say that he is giving the coconut vending community a bad name with his "bummy" practices and bad habits. They told Loop News that they have spoken to him on numerous occasions over the years, months and weeks and even made complaints to officials, to no avail.
One vendor. who has been operating in Warrens along the ABC Highway in the vicinity of the Dome Mall, said he has been there for 10 months now and the crux of their problem is always this one man.
“It’s just that one guy that did leffing de shells. When he come and see there clear, he would leff shells dey. See dey clear, he would come and cut here and leff shells dey. So if you were cutting there and you clean up there, you come back, you can’t do nothing.”
The group of three told Loop News that this particular vendor previously left shells by the Warrens gas station for months, and he is doing the same all along the stretch to the Everton Weekes roundabout now.
“It is not that all de men that does come out here does leff de shells yuh know. It’s this one man that does cut coconuts and leff de shells…
“It is a simple thing. You cut, even if you leff it dah evening, you come back with a load, tek up wuh you leff de day in front and drop you load and start you day. Is a simple, simple thing, and not leffing de shells dey so for two and three weeks, and still ain’t moving them... You making money, it’s simple. Tek up de shells, carry dem to de dump. There ain’t nain hard about that.”
Watching as the Sanitation Authority bobcat cleared the shoulder of the highway of hundreds of empty shells, the vocal coconut vendor repeated, “All dem shells that get tek up is his, all of them - one person.”
And they were annoyed at the fact that it seems that even their complaints to the inspectors at the Ministry have fallen on deaf ears, saying, “We even talked to the inspector guy about it.”
The vendors stressed that everyone else agrees it is easy to every day move your shells the same day.
One assistant has been working with his employer at that location for some 14 years or so and said they were the first on that site and to date they only take issue with this one man because of his habit.
“Everybody come together and talked to the inspector about he already… It’s stupidness!”
Looking at his regular spot on the straight, he urged, “You have to make sure your spot clean. You can’t expect to sell coconuts here and leff it dirty ‘cause when customers come it gotta be clean. You can’t expect to sell in front a musty, stinking spot, and people coming to buy water from there.”
Members of the public have often asked why the vendors don’t clean up after themselves, but they today asserted that they are not able to clean up their messes and his as well. “You ain’t want to drop fresh shells on top of his and then have to pay to move all.”
Another vendor who said that today’s losses impact him greatly because he “got children to send school”, added, “We can’t get no money! I ain’t work for de week. This is de first time I come out to work and I can’t get nuh money…
“All of this is because of [him]. He left shells down by de gas station till dem turn brown and people notice it and people start to talk bout it and that is what really bring it up now.”
Asked how much today's disruption would cost them, the vendors noted that selling coconuts and coconut water is a hustle so they can’t give a dollar figure for the losses they will incur today.
One man who set up shop in Warrens since January explained, “People does say that coconuts does mek dis amount of money and dat amount of money, but fuh de amount of money people does be talking bout, you gotta work a whole week and everybody don’t come out here and work nuh whole week. Still gotta buy bottles, pay de men that working and you gotta pay de climber, yuh gotta pay de men that does load de truck. When everything done you does don’t be mekking nuttin.”
Acting Senior Environmental Health Officer, Ryle Rock, said the vendors would not be allowed to ply their trade at the location today.
The cleanup ended just before midday and by then two truckloads of coconuts were on site. At the time of publication of this article (2 p.m.), one truck with coconuts was parked along the highway and conducting business as usual.