The Star (Jamaica)



Pauline Beckett is one of two women in the downtown Kingston who is involved in the handcart rental business. The mother of seven has more than 10 handcarts in her fleet. She said that it is a sustainabl­e business that has helped to provide a steady income for her household, while helping her to finance her children’s educationa­l pursuits.

Beckett, who has been a vendor in the Coronation Market for more than three decades, has been an handcart entreprene­ur since 2001, having taken over the business from her significan­t other, Errol Black, after he died from an illness.

“He (Errol) was the one who made it and rent it. I took over but I can’t make it, I have to pay someone to make it but from that time till now, I am doing it. It was me, Errol and my brother Lloyd that was into the handcart thing. The business is all about helping yourself and helping others around you, you can make something out of it,” she said. “Me just love it, more time me prefer it more than me shop. Me affi dedicate myself to cart even more than me shop,” she said of the handcart business that gives greatest return at the first week of every month when shoppers rush Coronation Market for their fresh produce, and at Christmas time.


Beckett said that while the handcart business has its rewards, it is challengin­g to manage. There are instances when her carts are stolen, scrapped or seized by the police.

“More time police take it weh, man rent it and tek it weh, yuh park yuh cart and man lift out the front end outa it, and more time yuh can’t get no material fi make it. The handcart thing is not an easy task,” Beckett told THE STAR.

Powered by elbow grease, handcarts are used by buyers and sellers to transport goods throughout the busy market district. The drivers require no licences, but must be skilful at manoeuvrin­g the board-framed mode of transporta­tion.

Beckett said that despite the ravages of COVID-19, she is thankful that the business has not been severely impacted.

“We still able to make a likkle food and pay our bills. We affi give God thanks because some places lockdown,” she said.

The 65-year-old shared that she is looking forward to welcoming the Yuletide season, is this time of year normally brings more commercial activities and the demand for carts naturally increases. For now, though, the entreprene­ur is focused on maintainin­g her fleet, even as she advocates for a dedicated place to be created for the parking of carts to prevent them from being stolen or scrapped.

 ?? PHOTO BY TIFFANY TAYLOR ?? Pauline Beckett is involved in the handcart renting business in downtown Kingston.
PHOTO BY TIFFANY TAYLOR Pauline Beckett is involved in the handcart renting business in downtown Kingston.

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