Mixed reviews on MoBay’s ‘Restoring Paradise’ | News – Jamaica Gleaner

WESTERN BUREAU:
THERE ARE mixed views about the effectiveness of the project ‘Restoring Paradise, A Public Order Reset’, which was designed to bring order to all facets of life in Montego Bay, St James.
Some stakeholders are of the view that the perennial cat-and-mouse situation between law enforcers and the lawless has not seen any significant changes, while others believe that the long-term objectives of the initiative are still attainable.
“The process of Paradise Restore is continuous and based on my discussions with the police and the municipal corporation, the vision of the mayor and the senior superintendent (of police), along with the other agencies, is to create a system where we can walk on the streets without tripping over the items being sold by vendors and worrying about pickpockets, ” said Oral Heaven, President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).
“I have been to the Charles Gordon Market, and it is more orderly than before, but as soon as the police move the people might disregard the instructions. But there is no way you can have the police at one location 24 hours of the day,” said Heaven.
When the initiative was launched, it had the full support of stakeholders such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, the St James Municipal Corporation, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), the Transport Authority, and other agencies.
Its mandate was to restore order on the streets as it relates to illegal vending and traffic infractions, and the illegal abstraction of electricity and water, among other breaches.
Businessman Davon Crump and newspaper publisher Lloyd B. Smith, both former presidents of the MBCCI, share mixed views on the effectiveness of the initiative.
“Market Street has been a refreshing experience when I visited, so I can say the initiative seems to be working. But during my visits the police were present, so it could be an unfair assessment,” said Crump, as he contextualised the law enforcement situation in the city’s business district.
However, Smith believes a sustained public education campaign is necessary if there is to be a culture shift away from the cat-and-mouse situation between the police and those persons who are resisting the bid to create order.
“If not, you are going to get just what is happening now,” said Smith. “Taxi operators and vendors are orderly when they see the police, but turn back to their old ways when they are not around. Consistency is key if order is to be restored.”
In seeking to test the challenges being faced by persons using the streets of Montego Bay daily, on Tuesday afternoon, The Gleaner ventured into downtown Montego Bay. It took the news team about 20 minutes to travel 70 metres along Market Street, as the presence of several delivery trucks unloading goods, and public transportation operators slowed traffic to a snail’s pace.
Amid the congestion and the indiscipline of some motorists who were seen making U-turns, there was a noticeably absent police presence. At the intersection of St James Street and Union Street, where taxi operators plying the Rose Hall route pick up passengers, the perennial disorder was in evidence with motorists disregarding the traffic lights, among other breaches.
“It is a work in progress, my brother, we just have to keep at it,” a senior police officer, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told The Gleaner. “The good thing is that all the stakeholders are still on board, and we are all 100 per cent committed to seeing this through.”
mark.titus@gleanerjm.com
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