Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
Four months after the highly touted small business entrepreneurial centre was announced for the People's Arcade in Montego Bay, St James, the initiative is still stagnant due to a lack of support and funding.
Operations manager at the facility, O. Dave Allen, contends that the effort has not been allowed to gain traction because of the lacklustre approach by policymakers to discontinuing the use of the Old Shoe Market as a vending area.
According to him, many shop owners have vacated the arcade with several opting to trade their wares at the market, sited at the intersection of St James and Creek streets.
The Old Shoe Market came to prominence in late 2002 and has been a sore point for the St James Parish Council since. Located on prime real estate in downtown Montego Bay, the area has evolved into a shanty town and has been the subject of several nefarious activities over the years.
"We have the possibility to have growth and generate growth for Montego Bay. The People's Arcade has a platform that can accommodate small and medium-size businesses. With the right kind of support it can be achieved. We need to know the status of the Old Shoe Market," Allen further emphasised.
According to Mayor of Montego Bay, Glendon Harris, the municipal authority does not support the vending activities at the Old Shoe Market and will seek to have them removed when plans are finalised for the development of the area.
"We are seeking an investor to develop a multi-storey parking facility at the said location, and as soon as we have found an investor and plans are in place, they will have to move," the mayor confirmed.
Harris also gave the assurance that a zero-tolerance initiative would begin on September 1 as part of strict measures to enforce the Anti-Vending, Public Health, Solid Waste and Road Traffic acts.
Meanwhile, the appeal for the People's Arcade has also dwindled over the years because of a decline in business and it has become a breeding ground for illicit activities and rodents that make use of unclean and empty shop spaces.