ST JAMES, Jamaica - The St James police on Thursday carried out an operation at The People’s Arcade in Montego Bay as they intensify their efforts to clampdown on illegal and unsanitary vending in the second city during their ongoing 'Operation Restoring Paradise — A Public Order Reset'.
According to Eron Samuels, superintendent in charge of operations in St James, the police have taken an interest in The People’s Arcade after recognising that criminals utilise the space.
Two men were taken into custody for questioning by the police during the operation.
Additionally, the parish’s public health team has identified major sanitation concerns as there is no running water available at the facility, which was first established by the then St James Parish Council to house the city’s vendors in 1996, he pointed out.
“For our public order reset, we are looking at the whole facility here which is really in a state of disarray. It was not built with policing in mind and we find that with a place like this, it is a safe haven for criminals to operate,” SP Samuels told the OBSERVER ONLINE.
“We know that it is used as an escape route for when persons commit crimes in other areas in the city…they run through here and meet with their escape because it is a maze, so we really are concerned and we believe that our intervention is greatly needed if we are to bring about some law and order within the space here in Montego Bay,” he added.
“The Ministry of Health has been having an ongoing investigation into the sanitation issues here. Water commission (NWC) has verified that there is no running water within the facility, but yet still there are generations of families living here leading to poor sanitation practices.”
Furthering his point of the illegal vending practices coming out of The People’s Arcade, Superintendent Samuels noted that the police along with the parish’s public health team have expressed concern about the food being prepared at the facility.
“What we know of a fact is that a lot of the meals that are sold on the streets are prepared here in a situation where there is no running water and poor sanitation conveniences, so we are really looking at a broad spectrum of public order issues here and the main [concern] is for the health and wellness of our citizens of Montego Bay,” the superintendent said.
'Operation Restoring Paradise — A Public Order Reset', began Monday and has seen the police and other State agencies weeding out illegal taxis as well as illegal and unsanitary vending across the city.
Thirteen agencies, including the National Water Commission (NWC), the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, and the Transport Authority (TA), have partnered with the police on this initiative.