St James Health Department targets JRC over arcade
Lennox Wallace, chief public health inspector for St James, is calling on the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC), which owns the People's Arcade land in Montego Bay, to swiftly address several abandoned shops at the facility which, he says, serve as breeding grounds for rats.
"There are shops in the arcade that have been abandoned and that have been used as garbage areas," said Wallace. "The general clean-up of the abandoned shops, being used as garbage skips, needs to be done in an urgent manner.
"The JRC recently started minimal cleaning of the arcade, and they cleaned the drain that runs adjacent to the Howard Cooke Highway, but the areas that contribute most to the rodent population have not been done yet," added Wallace. "It is of concern that the JRC have not moved with more alacrity ... those areas must be cleaned by them because they are the owners of the property."
Last month, the JRC sought to regularise the arcade's business operators, in keeping with an announcement last October that the government entity would take control of the location.
Reasons for plans
The JRC's plans were made as part of efforts to address several issues at the arcade, including squatters converting several shops into dwellings, illegal electricity and water connections; and the dumping of household waste in the nearby gully, which is being blamed for the rat infestation in that section of Montego Bay.
Of the 496 units in the arcade, some 47 have been abandoned. The facility was created in 1996 by former Montego Bay mayor, the late Arthur Gilchrist, to accommodate dislocated street vendors who were asked to leave the streets to facilitate the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Montego Bay South Gully Drainage Improvement Project.