Fri | Jan 18, 2019

Court intervention being sought to keep People’s Arcade open

Published:Monday | December 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
O. Dave Allen

Social activist O. Dave Allen, who is representing business operators at the People's Arcade in Montego Bay, St James, is planning to take legal action to keep the commercial facility open after it was closed by health authorities recently due to a lack of water. The arcade's water supply was disconnected earlier this month. During a meeting with vendors at the facility last Thursday, the outspoken Allen said he will be seeking to enforce caveat against the Jamaica Railway Corporation (JRC), which, he alleged, is seeking to disenfranchise the business operators.

"We have a caveat on the property, and we have to go activate that caveat, because it takes 14 days for them (JRC) to give notice. ... So to protect our interests, we'll have to take out legal action against the JRC immediately," Allen told the operators.

"In the next 14 days, we have to get this matter before the court, so we can keep the caveat alive on this property to protect those who have invested inside here," Allen added. "We can anticipate that with this situation where we do not have running water, the Public Health Department will be closing down this facility. There's no serious effort on the part of the JRC to bring this place up to standard ... the JRC plans to sell you out," Allen told business persons.

Allen accused the JRC and its chairman, Ferris Ziadie, of failing to keep several promises that work would be done to bring the arcade up to proper health and operational standards.

"Mr Ziadie made promises to the operators that he would bring the facility under some proper management. Since then, the facility has been abandoned by the JRC," said Allen.

"We do not expect the bureaucracy to fight against small people, and that is what is happening. We have to build an army to protect our interests, and we have to stand united."

The People's Arcade was established in 1996 by former mayor of Montego Bay, the late Arthur Gilchrist, to accommodate dislocated street vendors who were asked to leave the streets to pave the way for the Inter-American Development Bank-funded Montego Bay South Gully Drainage Improvement Project.

christopher.thomas@gleanerjm.com