Editorial

A tale of four sensible mayors

Friday, November 09, 2018

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There is much encouragement in the news carried by the Jamaica Observer West yesterday that mayors across the four western parishes (Westmoreland, Hanover, St James, and Trelawny) have publicly stated their intentions to work with the police and other government agencies in clamping down on illegal street vending in non-designated areas.

This is a matter that has always been with us and is a touchy political subject, especially during the Yuletide season. It is an issue to which many of our local government officials have, over many years, turned a blind eye in order not to rock the boat of their supporters and to protect their lofty positions.

This blind-eye political practice has led to unsightly cities and towns with massive garbage pile-up causing a potential health risk, plus there is always a cramping of space making it rather difficult for others who are not vendors or potential customers to negotiate.

The police, in the past, have often complained about their ineffectiveness to deal with criminals when our sidewalks and roadways are cluttered with vendors parading their wares in order to make a sale.

Indeed, we believe that the police must have clear access to all our public spaces without any obstruction from vendors and their goods.

The words of Montego Bay Mayor Councillor Homer Davis ring out: “One thing I can assure you is that we will be working very closely with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, because I know there is a new thrust from the commissioner of police that public spaces must at all times give free and unfettered access to the public; and wherever illegal vending or illegal obstruction are taking place, then the police have the authority under the various acts to not only to remove those persons, but to prosecute them.”

The rule of law has to be doggedly pursued if the country is to progress, grow and develop.

Let us be abundantly clear that this newspaper is not for one second suggesting or even intimating that Jamaicans must not be given a chance to make an honest living. Absolutely not! We boldly and without equivocation encourage the entrepreneurial drive and spirit of all Jamaicans. But to do so at the expense of the rights and comfort of others is no longer acceptable.

The various municipal corporations, as suggested by the mayors, have to aid the process by providing designated areas for vendors to ply their trade in a clean and environmentally friendly atmosphere. If this is not done in a timely manner problems are going to occur leading to possible conflicts, which are unwanted at this time.

After these areas are designated, then the vendors must comply and use the space provided in the conduct of their businesses.

In Jamaica, we have all grown accustomed to promises made which are never fulfilled by our politicians. We, therefore, hope that the four mayors of the western parishes carry out their duties with regard to the vending issue quickly and decisively, and not wait until they are be overrun as the Christmas season takes hold.

We expect that even as they take note of the declaration of their four western colleagues, mayors in the other nine parishes will already have started to put their own plans in place.

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