Categorized | National News

Health Concerns Over Fish Vendors- MP Wants Immediate Action To Fix Problem

A Montagu resident is raising serious health concerns about conch and fish vendors operating on the Montagu ramp, noting that they are preparing food items without running water or bathroom facilities.

Graham Weatherford, a long-time Montagu resident, who unsuccessfully contested the 2012 General Election in Montagu, expressed his disgust that some vendors were relieving themselves in bushes and later returning to resume fish and vending activities.

There are two bathroom facilities located on the Montagu foreshore – one by Fort Montagu and the other adjacent to the Montagu ramp, however, neither of the brand new facilities are complete.

“Everyone enjoys eating fish and conch salad; they enjoy eating from a lunch vendor and a lady that sells fruits. The problem is we have two restrooms and they look beautiful, but they’re not open to the public,” he said.

“So, we fought to get two good bathrooms here, one for the vendors and one for the tourists by the fort. We’re making food out here, but we have nowhere to wash our hands. Now, Bahamians do have to go to the bathroom. So, if we’re preparing food and not washing our hands Bahamians are going to get sick.”

Mr. Weatherford is now calling on officials at the Ministry of Health to correct the situation.

“There’s no water out here. I’m also calling on the [MP] for the Montagu area to come down here and make sure this is dealt with. It is his job to do what I am doing and ask the ministries in the House of Assembly to fix the problem down here,” he said.

“Tourists come off of the cruise ships every day, go on our lovely beaches, buy from our vendors; they may be getting poisoned if we can’t wash our hands, but they themselves have no bathroom to go to; it’s a disgrace for the country, for one of the oldest constituencies, Montagu. It’s a crying shame.”

Montagu MP Richard Lightbourn told The Bahama Journal yesterday that he has raised the matter with the government in parliament.

“I’ve also written on two occasions to the Ministry of Works; I’ve spoken with the relevant parties there and was assured that construction would be finished in the very near future and as you can see, that is not the case. These bathroom facilities were, I would imagine, at least half completed when there was a change of government, but it does seem as if the government has just left the matter and forgotten about it,” he said.

“It is appalling. Not only are the vendors unable to have proper facilities but the many visitors and persons who use the beach there as, and not just those who are using the ramp, but those who come to enjoy the beach facilities. That is obviously a concern.”

“The plain truth is we do it all over The Bahamas and we’re fortunate that there haven’t been serious illnesses, but I would just urge the government to address the matter immediately because it is absurd. Here we are 15 months into the administration and they’ve been unable to complete two bathroom facilities, which are in very prominent positions in the middle of an area that is used extensively by Bahamians. It’s just terrible that we don’t have proper bathroom facilities. It’s appalling, you can’t take care of bathroom facilities and you’re running a country?”

Mr. Weatherford told The Bahama Journal that he visits the site every day to buy food from a lunch van operator.

During The Bahama Journal’s visit to the site it witnessed several busloads of taxis arriving laden with tourists.

“So, they’re going to eat conch salad by someone who has been to the bathroom and had no water and couldn’t go in the bathrooms, so he went in the bush,” said Mr. Weatherford.

Several of the fish vendors admitted that the lack of bathroom facilities has posed a problem as many of them use the bushes to relieve themselves.

One vendor, who has worked at the Montagu ramp for the past five years, said the entire situation is “disgusting.”

“They [the vendors] usually go across to the bushes or [urinate] right there on the corner. Some [urinate] behind the garbage. They actually go across the road; you don’t want to go there; it’s a mess. This bathroom is like a mansion, it’s taking forever to [complete].

“It’s not hygienic at all; it’s disgusting. It doesn’t make sense because it’s nasty, especially when you’re dealing with people’s food. The thought of it makes me sick.”

Two fishermen who spoke on condition of anonymity admitted that they have had to go home or to nearby restaurants to use bathroom facilities.

They said they sometimes bring water from home to clean their hands, but often use the saltwater to clean their fish and conch.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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