Condoms block drains at market - Authorities suspect that prostitutes are selling sex at facility

August 28, 2018

Lennox Wallace, parish manager for the St James Public Health Department, says the St James Municipal Corporation must move decisively against the illegal sex trade taking place at the Old Shoe Market at nights, as it is a major eyesore and health hazard in the popular tourist capital.

The Old Shoes Market site, which is located on St James Street, is the scene of brisk commercial activities in the day, with shoes and clothing vendors sharing the space with hairdressers, dressmakers, shoemakers. However, it is transformed into an active spot for sexual pleasure at a cost in the night.

“The health department has no physical evidence of prostitution activity,” Wallace told Western STAR.

“In fact, there are persons that can be seen in the evenings dressed in a particular manner ... that we would deem as persons selling sex at nights. The concern that we would have had is that the public drains are generally blocked by the used condoms and used wrappers. However, as the health department, our duty is prevention, so our education unit would have to visit these locations to offer safe sex tips and issue materials, including condoms, to these persons, who we believe can endanger themselves and the lives of those that they encounter.”

When contacted, Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis said that a development plan is being prepared to correct the health and security concerns at the facility.

“I heard of the prostitution activities, the public health inspector has spoken about those activities, and it appears that there are some things happening there. But, I am not in a position to say definitively,” he said. 

According to Davis, a part of the plan is to construct shops for the business operators at the Old Shoes Market, which would be financed from proceeds of the sale of lands at Bogue. That sale is expected to generate more than $40 million.

However, Wallace is not impressed with such a plan, arguing that the health and safety of the public could be at risk if short to medium term action is not taken.

“We don’t have to wait on that (sale of property),” he said. “The health department wants to work with the parish council, but we cannot wait three and four months.”

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