OCHO RIOS, St Ann — Councillor for the Ocho Rios Division Michael Belnavis has instructed the police to maintain a visible presence on Friday as the St Ann Municipal Corporation attempts to take back the streets of the resort town from illegal vendors.
“We will be doing an operation on Friday and we are hoping it will help to maintain some semblance of law and order. We will be removing vendors from the area of Dacosta Drive and Market Street and have them relocated back into the market. The market has space for vending. We spent over $10 million renovating places in the market to allow individuals to have a place to comfortably vend,” said Belnavis, who is the former mayor of the resort town and a member of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party.
He was speaking during Thursday’s regular monthly meeting of the municipal corporation.
He lambasted residents who are creating havoc in the town.
“I’m very dissatisfied with the look and feel of Ocho Rios as it stands right now because of two things: the residents, to include the market vendors and other business owners, are not taking care of the environment. The vending is out of control and people are dumping their garbage almost every and anywhere,” he said.
While the local authorities can “only ask for people to dispose of their garbage properly”, Belnavis said, more can be done to tackle street vending. The renovation of the market, two years ago, was part of that thrust.
“The municipal corporation has a responsibility to maintain order in the town and in recent times it has gotten out of control,” Belnavis noted.
“To all the vendors that are coming from Montego Bay and Spanish Town or wherever, yes, we welcome you but you need to vend in the market,” he stressed.
“The operation for tomorrow will bring back Ocho Rios to the way it should be as a tourist town, just in time for the tourist season. We want to ask that the municipal police to also maintain their presence so we don’t have a cat and mouse situation,” he said.