St James Health Department takes aim at the JRC
The St James Health Department will be serving notice to the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC) to improve sanitary conditions at the People's Arcade in Montego Bay, which has been converted by squatters into a partial residential area over the past five years.
Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, said that the move to serve the notice on the JRC was sparked by the unsanitary conditions at the facility and a part of the health department's latest thrust to combat the rat infestation in the parish.
"The level of hygiene at the People's Arcade is cause for concern. We are currently writing a notice to send to the JRC to improve the conditions there, or we will take further action," said Wallace. "Babies are being born out there, and there is the indiscriminate disposal of waste and pampers into the drain that runs directly beside the People's Arcade."
The health inspector also noted that a letter had previously been sent to the JRC to address squatting and improper waste disposal in the commercial facility.
"The JRC had acknowledged receipt of the letter and said they are trying to effect remedial measures; however, we do not believe that it is being done in a timely manner, so we will be serving the statutory notice for improved conditions in the arcade," said Wallace.
Last October, the JRC stated that it intended to take charge of the People's Arcade, where squatters had converted several shops into dwellings, utilising illegal electricity and water connections. To compound the issue, there has also been dumping of household waste into the nearby gully, converting it into a haven for breeding rats.
With the health department on full alert in regard to rodent diseases such as leptospirosis, Wallace said his department is now conducting an education campaign on the bacterial disease, which is transmitted through rat urine and can result in kidney failure, vomiting, internal bleeding, respiratory failure and death.