Concerned about the build up of traffic and the spread of the novel coronavirus in Ocho Rios, St Ann, Councilor Michael Belnavis (Ocho Rios, Jamaica Labour Party) is urging the police to clear the streets of the resort town of what he says is “an influx of vendors who have taken up residence since last December”.
According to Belnavis, the areas of concerns are Dacosta Street, Market Street and along Main Street, which was without vendors over the past two years.
“We spent some money, just two years ago, to renovate the car park and build some stalls to move people from the street into the market and as it stands right now people have relocated back on to the roads,” said Belnavis, a former mayor of St Ann's Bay.
“There a lot of vendors and 98 per cent of them are from out of the area. We would like to see people go back into the market because that is what it was created for,” added
Food vending, which is most dominant on the streets of the resort town, is the major concern for Belnavis who charged that some of the vendors may not be aware of proper food handling procedures and this may fuel the spread of viruses.
“It is a COVID environment so what can we do to ensure that these food vendors are at least maintaining standard?”
Belnavis asked chief public health inspector for St Ann Delroy Scott during a recent meeting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation.
“The food vending in Ocho Rios is now different from any other part of the parish. It is a challenge that both the municipal council and the Public Health Department have had to manage. What we have to do is find ways to manage the activities so it can be done properly and the standards of dealing with food can be upheld,” Scott responded.
He added that the Public Health Department has been trying its best to sensitise vendors about proper food handling.
“The food vending in Ocho Rios is now different from any other part of the parish. It is a challenge that both the municipality and public health department have had to manage. What we have to do is find ways to manage the activities so it can be done properly and the standards of dealing with food can be upheld,” said Scott
“We do not have the authority to move people from the streets but we will do what we can to ensure there is some level of standard,” added Scott.
In the meantime, head of the St Ann Police Division Senior Superintendent Dwight Powell told the meeting that the police intend to keep the streets of the resort town free of illegal vendors.
“We had good compliance last year because we had a number of operations around the vending situation and we intend to carry that out for this year. So those person on the streets will become a focus of the police to get them back into the market district,” said Powell.