Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Clampdown on street vending

Published:Saturday | February 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMKarrie Williams and Barrington Flemming
Winston 'Chawfine' Campbell (left) removing illegal vendors at the Charles Gordon Market.


The longstanding issue of illegal street vending has resurfaced in the Westmoreland and St James parish councils.

Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay and vice-chairman of the St. James Parish Council, Michael Troupe, has called for an immediate end to illegal vending in the Second City, citing immense congestion of streets in the city centre and significant revenue loss for legitimate business operators.

Troupe made the call while addressing the recent monthly meeting of the St James Parish Council, and also admonished Mayor Glendon Harris for taking a passive approach to the street vendors.

"I know you are very sympathetic to the vendors and you have tried your best to assist them to trade their wares in certain sections of Montego Bay, because your policy is that you know the economy and how hard it is. But, it has reached a stage now, Your Worship, where the vendors have overtaken the entire city, and it's time that we here as the city partners, must now take a stand, and one of the recommendations I want to make, Your Worship, at this council, is that all vending in Montego Bay have to come to an end," Troupe said.

Troupe who is councillor of the Granville Division, said legitimate business owners were incurring huge losses as a result of direct competition from the vendors and that they should be forced to move back into the municipal arcade, which is the city's designating vending area. The arcade which is located along St James' Street, has long being abandoned by numerous vendors due to what they describe as a lack of proper facilities and security.

"All those who have shops in the arcade must now start cleaning up their shops," Troupe said. "If they are rented, they must reclaim them, because vending in the city of Montego Bay, in short order is going to be a no, no (and) all vendors must now head back to the arcade.

"It's time now that the parish council must get involved, because if we don't, we are going to lose the legitimate business operators who are paying their taxes in Montego Bay. So I am asking you, your worship, that we take a stance now. It cannot be tomorrow, the vendors must now know that the one place to vend is the arcade," he continued.

The deputy mayor also received support from Commanding Officer of the St James Police Division, Derrick Champagnie. While Champagne pledged the cooperation of his members in aiding the council to rid the streets of illegal vendors, he also expressed concern that enough was not being done by the municipal police to apprehend persons who were breaching the law.

"Regarding the municipal officers, we are still not getting the cooperation we would like, as it relates to enforcement of municipal breaches, so I'm asking the council to ensure that the municipal police become more effective. When we check our records, as it relates to prosecution, this is at a minimal, which is unacceptable based on the challenges that we have in the town of Mobay," he said.

Over in neighbouring Westmoreland, Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore, said the Westmoreland Parish Council in collaboration with the police, would continue its drive to rid the capital's streets of illegal-vendors, who continue to plague the streets, creating problems for motorists and pedestrians.

During the recent Westmoreland Parish Council monthly meeting, Moore stated that affected areas are Great George Street, Rose Street, and Beckford Street, including the Beckford Plaza. He also said street vending was providing fertile ground for criminal activities, including pickpockets preying on unsuspecting persons.

"The streets of the town continue to be plagued by vendors. The pedestrians can't even use the sidewalk. It is a very serious situation because you have criminal activities going along too, because pick pockets will come and pick you and run and, we cannot allow that in Savanna-la-Mar. The children coming from school, they are forced to walk on the streets, so it is something that we are totally against," Moore said.

He said the operators of Beckford Plaza have made numerous complaints of vendors, impinging on the faƁade of some shops, which causing annoyances to business owners.

Moore said the council had given the vendors a break during the Christmas period, but since that time the situation has worsened.

"We have a market and there is a lot of space that can house all the vendors. And I am planning to spend some more money on the outside of the market, so if they want to go there they can use that area, so we won't tolerate vending on the street," he said.