Food

Food Vending Permit Proposed — KSAMC stakeholders meet with mobile food vendors

Foodie News

Thursday, August 29, 2019

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Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) Commercial Services committee chairman Councillor Duane Smith, in a meeting with Corporate Area mobile food vendors on Friday, August 23, reassured stakeholders that the regulatory initiative being rolled out “is not meant to mash up anybody's business” but he was adamant that “what now obtains cannot continue”.

The KSAMC — after receiving reports of persons misrepresenting authority and soliciting payments from mobile food vendors — has moved to formalise vendors' operations by implementing a structured system by way of a proposed Food Vending Permit Application. A sample of the form, which was distributed for review by stakeholders during the meeting, will tentatively be ready at the end of September. It aims to document vendors' information (name of the owner of each food cart, contact information, name of the operator and business, proposed location and proof of food handler's permit) which will aid the KSAMC in their regulatory process. “You would be surprised to know the amount of people [street food vendors] that come in and write to us on a daily basis about regularising themselves, but there is no mechanism in place for them to do that,” shared Smith. He said this lapse has in the past forced persons to operate unregulated; the new initiative will fix that problem.

Smith explained that this meeting — though convened at short notice — was important and is the first of at least three meetings geared at sensitising vendors about the impending changes. He said once the forms are ready at the end of September, the KSAMC will extend a six-week window for vendors to become registered. A fee which Smith describes as “nominal” will apply and vendors will have the liberty of paying annually or semi-annually. Vending areas will be established and vending outside these areas will not be tolerated. He warned that once the new regulations take effect, “it won't be a free-for-all” and there will be a zero-tolerance policy after the window has closed. “If you are not registered with the KSAMC we will take away the cart and impound it,” he said. Smith, who has been working alongside Mayor of Kingston & St Andrew, Councillor Delroy Williams and a team to draft regulations that will govern the street vending industry, stressed that this is a “public health thing, not a revenue drive”.

Smith further explained that each vendor will be registering for a zone. Each zone will be large enough to facilitate multiple food carts and will equip the KSAMC with a more accurate location for each vendor. With the proposed licensing system, mobile vending proprietors must apply for an amusement licence if they wish to operate contrary to the zone to which they have been assigned. “From time to time, we go on social media and you see people who operate mobile trucks and they say 'this weekend we're having a brunch in a particular parking lot'. We are not discouraging that,” said Smith. “You have a licence to operate in a particular location; if you are going to drive the truck (elsewhere) you now have to apply for an amusement licence.”

Smith reminded stakeholders that the new provisions will help, rather than harm. Once vendors become registered they will be provided with proof of registration that will protect their right to operate.

During the interactive session, businessman Brandon McKay suggested changes to the proposed food vending permit application. He said the form should make provisions for more than one proposed location. McKay pointed out that, in the event that one location is denied, a second or third option should be considered without the applicant having to complete the process again. Damian Lattery, owner, Latto Peanut Porridge and Soup, also asked the panel to give 'first preference' to persons who already have established locations.

Save for a small number of mobile food vendors, most operators in Kingston and St Andrew are doing so unregulated and the KSAMC is moving to change that. David Wright, local economic development (LED) officer, said, “Regulation needs to take over before chaos does.” He admitted that “street food is really where the authentic taste of Jamaica is” and, as such, must be held to the same standards as established restaurants in Jamaica.

The KSAMC will hold additional meetings with stakeholders as part of their sensitising process. All dates will be announced in the media.


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