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  • Rats take over Railway land

Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter

The St. James Health Department has written to the Jamaica Railway Corporation calling for immediate action, to address breaches of the Public Health Act at the People’s Arcade and lands adjacent to it, which are now being overrun by rats.

Lennox Wallace, Chief Public Health Inspector for St.  James, says the Jamaica Railway Corporation has reneged on an agreement with the St. James Health Department, which was forged more than a year ago to undertake a massive clean-up programme and to convert the Arcade from domestic to commercial operation, after it was discovered that people had been living there.

“This is unacceptable. This does not meet public health standards and Montego Bay deserves better. The Corporation is not keeping up with its side of the bargain as 95 percent of People’s Arcade is being occupied for domestic purposes. They initiated a clean-up of the drain but it was incomplete. The adjacent land which formerly housed the abattoir is now overrun with rats,” Wallace explained.

The drain, he said, now poses a serious health risk, especially in light of the Dengue Fever Outbreak, as the stagnant water there would provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The Railway Corporation in a meeting involving the Health Department and the St. James Municipal Corporation, had committed to undertake a massive clean-up campaign and to rehabilitate sections of the facility, remove persons living there, as well as to return the facility to full commercial operation.

Mr. Wallace said, however that the Corporation reneged on the agreement so the Health Department had no choice but to force the hand of the management to act speedily to resolve the issue urgently. 

He further explained that the Health Department has been advised that the water supply at the People’s Arcade has been disconnected and in light of that, it will be carrying out inspection of food-operating establishments there to have them closed as they have no potable water with which to operate. 

 “We understand that the water supply was disconnected because it was illegally connected, so when we carry out our inspection, there shouldn’t be any food establishment in operation. We have no choice to order them closed because of a lack of running water.”

Efforts to get a comment from the principals at the Railway Corporation proved futile.

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