Week one of MoBay crackdown nets close to 1,000
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Some 50 people were arrested and 900 others ticketed for various offences in St James during last week’s multi-agency crackdown operation in the second city, which is currently under a state of public emergency (SOE).
The police have also vowed to continue the operation for another 90 days.
The week-long operation, dubbed ‘Operation Restore Paradise’, which started last Monday, was aimed at restoring law and order in the city.
Superintendent in charge of St James Police Division, Vernon Ellis, told the Jamaica Observer on the weekend that among those arrested during the operation is a man who was on the police’s wanted list.
The 900 ticketed were for various offences, including breaches of the Road Traffic Act, spirit licences, breaches of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) Act, and unlawful use of single-use plastics.
Some 1.5 million single-use plastic bags were seized from 41 establishments during the operations.
In relation to the Road Traffic Act, one stolen vehicle was recovered, 30 were seized, tints were removed from 50 vehicles, and 26 licence plates were removed from defective vehicles.
Superintendent Ellis also disclosed that 69 sensitisation sessions were conducted, where some 3,000 persons were sensitised about laws and regulations under the Road Traffic Act, Public Health Act, public order issues, Jamaica Public Service (JPS), National Water Commission (NWC), and the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA).
“We are saying that if order is maintained, the enforcement of laws may not be necessary in some respects. We are saying that hard-core gangsters will always be hard core even in well-ordered society. However, in a well-ordered society, they are more distinguishable from normal citizens,” stated Superintendent Ellis.
“We are saying that criminals normally migrate to cities with high public order issues. In most cases the security forces are tied down with serious and violent crimes with little or no resource to focus on public order issues. However, these same minor issues later mature into murders and shootings,” stated Superintendent Ellis.
Superintendent Ellis also thanked the 15 agencies that partnered with the JCF to make the initiative a success.
Meanwhile, the NWC has disclosed that it has recovered 50 per cent of the $6 million owed to it by a business establishment which was found with an illegal connection.
The customer, who operates a meat shop and was discovered with the illegal connection during an operation last week, has reportedly paid $3 million with a promise to pay the remaining balance through a payment plan.
The customer, who was back-charged for four years water consumption, is one of two business establishments that have been back- charged by the commission.
A car wash and restaurant establishment is the other. That business was billed $700,000 for a period of three years, for stealing water. The breaches were found on Railway Lane and Union Street in the second city, respectively.
“This is money that could be used to do the necessary upgrade work to the system, to offset so many things. So, it is important that customers really honour their monthly obligation,” stated Nadesia Tracey, community relations officer for the western region of the National Water Commission.
The two businesses were among the roughly 111 illegal connections found by the commission at premises in Montego Bay.
“We really will continue to monitor these customers even after the operation is finished, to ensure that they are regularised, and also to ensure that they remain a legitimate customer as well, for it is easy for them to go back to the same thing after the operation is finished,” Tracey argued.
She pointed out that no arrest was made as “the company is taking the softer side of enforcement for now”.
The JPS, which has seen a loss of 19.34 per cent of the energy it produced in St James to theft, is also reporting success.
On Tuesday, during what the company described as “a strike force operation” in the Flanker area of St James, 23 electricity meter audits were conducted of which six irregularities were found.
One person was arrested, while three were warned for prosecution. Some 67 throw-ups were also removed.
The following day, the company carried out similar activities in the Old Shoe Market and People’s Arcade in downtown Montego Bay.
In the Old Shoe Market, 70 shops with illegal electricity supplies were disconnected, while 156 throw-ups were removed.
Fifteen electricity meter audits were carried out in the People’s Arcade, where one meter bypass was found. Additionally, 87 line-tops (legitimate customers who have created throw ups) were also removed.
“The stealing of electricity is a hazardous activity that puts people’s lives and property in peril. So, I am strongly recommending that consumers consider their own welfare and the welfare of others. And in so doing, contact the JPS to make arrangements for the regularisation of their electricity supply,” urged Leroy Reid, JPS’s director of distribution for the south-west region.