Montego Bay: The capital of filth Pt 2
The Montego Bay Cultural Centre, formerly the Montego Bay Civic Centre, is now a cultural beacon, shining amid the rubble downtown, while the Dome monument improvement work is a diamond in a rough part of the city. All these developments, in addition to those to which Wikipedia have alluded, will shine through even brighter once the area is cleared of the debris of neglect and disorder.
I've read where the Inter-American Development Bank, through its Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative, has turned its attention to Montego Bay, developing long-term vision 'One Bay For All', which will guide an action plan for the city and its interventions in priority areas. This must be applauded; however, this is long term.
I see where the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of which I am a part, is now conceptualising a 'My MoBay' clean-up campaign. Again, this is laudable. A focus of this campaign by the chamber must be on getting the city's business operators to dispose of their commercial garbage as the law requires and keep their surroundings clean.
And yes, it is easier to talk and write a column highlighting the shortcomings, but I'm recommending the following solutions to the restoration of order and the revitalisation of MoBay now.
The vendors must be removed from the streets of the city post haste. Those selling items of clothing must be directed to the Peoples' Arcade and Charles Gordon Market. Food vendors must be returned to the Charles Gordon Market. Fruit vendors must be returned to the rehabilitated Byron Leslie Fruit and Vegetable Market, while fish vendors must be directed to the Byron Leslie Fish Market, which has also been rehabilitated. The William Street area must be properly lit and patrolled by the police, thus making the safety issue moot. In the meantime, the authorities need to pursue recommendations made in relation to the establishment of a market district in various plans. This is something that can be accomplished in the short term if there is but the will so to do.
The railway lands must be secured from the Jamaica Railway Corporation, and developed to facilitate taxi operators who have taken over all streets and gas stations downtown. This is something that can be done now. Couldn't the Old Shoes Market be removed and the area converted into a taxi hub as well?
The delivery of goods to businesses in the downtown area must be structured as we can't continue to have trucks causing even more traffic jams, bringing the city to a halt on any given day. The Chamber of Commerce can play a lead role in this effort.
The St James Parish Council and the NSWMA must conceptualise and implement an education programme for the general public, install attractive and sturdy garbage receptacles throughout the city, clean drains, repair sidewalks, and undertake a massive clean-up to include the washing of streets. A maintenance schedule should be developed and made public.
A fearless municipal police force, with the support of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, must be bolstered to take on enforcement issues in the parish even while we take steps to establish a municipal court. It is my understanding that the municipal court is on the cards, but there just aren't enough cases to warrant a stand-alone operation at this time. I've been informed that the existing municipal police officers are refusing to prosecute those who breach regulations because of various umbilical connections.
My feeling is there needs to be a real coming together to tackle the challenges of returning order to Montego Bay. Running away from the issue is not the answer as disorder will follow wherever people see opportunities. Business operators, including the Chinese, must be made to do their fair share as this is where they are making their bread and butter.
Lack of funds should not be an excuse to not achieve a clean-city status, rather, it's a matter of having the will.
n Davon Crump is a former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a major player in the local business processing outsourcing sector.