Former train station hums with hope
Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
FOR YEARS, the old train station in Balaclava, St Elizabeth, remained idle as the local rail service was suspended.
But for the past 18 years, the facility has been put to productive use, and it is not that the trains have started rolling again.
At age 25, Desmond Salmon saw the property as a business opportunity. After negotiating a lease with the Jamaica Railway Corporation, he established a woodwork shop that has grown from strength to strength.
Now approaching his 43rd birthday, Salmon has no regrets about venturing into the tricky endeavour.
"Business good, mi nah tell no lie. It could be better, but mi have to give thanks fi what mi a get," Salmon told The Gleaner.
"Me wouldn't say it 100 per cent, but there is a Christmas rush and me have to give thanks," added Salmon, as he pointed to beds, dressers and a chest of drawers being built.
"Anything people want, me can build it. Just tell me how you want it and it done," he boasted in response to a Gleaner request for an elegantly carved piece of furniture.
But Salmon has one regret: his failure to attract unemployed young men from the community to join him rather than dawdling on the streetside.
"It is here for them who want to learn. It is free for them, but some of them don't want to learn a trade.
"Me even tell some of them seh that them can learn it, but them don't have to do it as a profession. When them doing another job and have time, them can build a bed or a dresser for themselves, but them no interested," lamented Salmon.
He said young people who turn up looking for work want to be paid every day, which the business cannot afford.
"A no so the work go. You have to wait till you deliver something, then you get pay, but even if me give them a drawer to sandpaper down, them want money same time."
Salmon said while Balaclava is not as bustling as Santa Cruz or Black River, St Elizabeth's capital, it is crime-free and a good community in which to live and raise a family.
He was dismissive of persons who sit waiting for handouts while blaming politicians for their financial doldrums.
"Everybody will sit down and seh nothing nah gwaan, but a you have to push yourself out there and make something happen. If me did a follow them and a wait on things fi happen, nothing wouldn't a gwaan fi me."