DOWNTOWN Kingston vendors were yesterday warned by the police to 'clean up their act' or face the full force of the law.
Head of the Kingston Central Police Division, Superintendent Steve McGregor yesterday met with the vendors at the intersection of South Parade and Orange Street and informed them of what to expect if they did not heed the warning to trade their wares in the designated areas.
"We realise that it is just before the back-to-school time and we are trying to get that organisational structure in place. On any given day you come down Beckford Street the whole roadway is blocked; the intersections are blocked and it hampers smooth and efficient policing. So, we want to get that in place," McGregor told the Jamaica Observer following the meeting.
Vendors in the business district have, however, long complained that they have been targeted for unfair treatment by the police who they say sometimes seize their goods and smash their stalls.
McGregor said that while the police were fully aware that a number of people earn a living selling on the streets, vending must be conducted within the confines of the law. He added that a number of vendors have been flocking to no-vending zones, failing to abide by the law.
The police, said McGregor, were not on a mission to stop vendors from earning their living but had a duty to maintain law and order. The vendors needed to conduct their business in the designated vending zones and show respect for members of the public and other legitimate business operators who also do business in the district.
"... I like to give them a chance... so I told them that in the next two weeks I will allow them on the sidewalk off the roadway, out of the intersections and not blocking the entrance to any businessplace. We will see if they will work with that. If they don't work with it, then we have another strategy to roll out," McGregor said.
Some vendors complained to McGregor that their vending licences were revoked by the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and they were at a loss as to how to operate their small businesses within the ambit of the law.
McGregor, who inspected a few of the expired vending licences, instructed the disgruntled vendors to visit the Church Street headquarters of the KSAC and inform staff there that he had sent them to get their licences renewed. "Tell them Mr McGregor sent you," he told Verona Thomas, who showed him her expired licence.
McGregor also used the opportunity to introduce the new sub-officer in charge of the City Centre Police Station, Inspector Cynthia Graham, to the vendors.