Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Don't charge for photography at Emancipation Park

Published:Tuesday | August 16, 2016 | 8:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

On Friday, August 13, I attended a wedding, and the bridal party went to Emancipation Park to take photos. Upon arrival at the park, a female security guard noted that we must pay a fee of $2,000 to take the photos in the park. Failure to do so would result in forced removal from the park.

We proceeded to our selected spot and then another security guard came with a receipt book and demanded that the fee be paid. We did not want to spoil such a beautiful day, so we paid the fee. I am very uncomfortable with such a policy.

First, Emancipation Park is a free public space. I have been there several times and took photographs and never had to pay. I would like to know what is the difference between a family visiting the park for a casual outing and taking photos versus a family taking photos for wedding.

I am acquainted with receiving receipts from government agencies, and I am aware that they all use the official receipt book of the Government of Jamaica. However, the receipt received had no official seal - neither of the National Housing Trust nor the Government of Jamaica. This begs the question of the authenticity of the policy.

FREE PUBLIC PARK

Also, why do you have to pay the security guard on spot and not directly at the park's main office? Isn't the role of the security guard to protect the park and not to be collecting money? How do we measure the proper accountability of public funds?

I am very cautious of who I pay money in Jamaica; extortion, scamming and Anancyism are features of our daily experiences. It is not only foreign nationals who are the victims of scamming, but locals, too. We are scammed in the name of 'hustling' and 'protecting' our vehicles while using government car parks.

Since many Jamaicans are contributors to the National Housing Trust and the park is managed by this agency, why do we have to pay to take photos in a free public park? If the NHT's goal is to provide homes for families, why is the NHT 'raping' the basic institution (marriage) of a structured family by charging a fee to celebrate Jamaican weddings?

ONEIL HALL