Traffic changes in St Thomas for holiday season
Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
MORANT BAY, St Thomas:
WEST STREET in Morant Bay, St Thomas, is to be closed to vehicular traffic again this year to accommodate the many vendors who ply their wares in the parish capital during the festive season.
Assistant Superintendent of Police with responsibility for community safety and security in St Thomas, St George Jackson, explained that this step was taken after consultation with the St Thomas Parish Council, in an effort to ensure a safe Christmas for all. Clothes, shoes and produce vendors will be allowed to set up their stalls along the length of the road. The changes are to take effect on December 18 and are expected to last until Grand Market on Christmas Eve. In addition to the traffic changes, the police will maintain a strong presence in the capital to reduce incidents of theft and other illegal activities, which usually increase with the additional persons on the streets.
TAXI OPERATORS NOT MERRY
However, several taxi operators are disgruntled, complaining that they will have to leave the lucrative area of West Street, previously a no-vending zone, two years in a row, and feel that some consideration should be given to them as well.
"We have to be driving around the town, or stuck way down in the (bus) park. We nuh fi make a Christmas money too?" one taxi operator told The Gleaner.
Meanwhile, Jackson said dialogue is ongoing with vendors and the parish council in an effort to implement similar traffic changes in Yallahs. Traffic congestion is a long-standing problem in the town, with few parking spaces for the many businesses in the area, and several vendors taking over sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk in the streets.
Vendors who sell in Yallahs complain that there is no market per se, and that they are forced to set up shop where they are most visible in order to attract the most customers.
Assistant Superintendent Jackson explained that while the police were committed to keeping the consumers of the town and users of the thoroughfare safe, there would be consideration given to the needs of the vendors, and that the traffic changes that would be implemented, if obeyed, would be beneficial to all concerned.
"We understand the need of people to make money and to provide for themselves, we are not blind to their plight. But all things must be done in accordance with the law, and in a manner that will bring benefit to everyone," he said.