Melrose Hill Yam Park vendors in limbo

September 23, 2021
The Melrose Hill Yam Park has been ordered closed by the Manchester Health Department.
The Melrose Hill Yam Park has been ordered closed by the Manchester Health Department.
A roast yam vendor at Melrose Hill.
A roast yam vendor at Melrose Hill.

Following the closure of the Melrose Hill Yam Park on August 16 by the Manchester Health Department, vendors say they are waiting to hear from the authorities about the way forward.

A vendor told THE STAR that after more than a month, they need to get back to business.

"...That is where we get our daily living from, and we don't know what is going to happen. The specification of the health inspector is that your shop is clean and you have your food handler's permit, and we basically have all of that in place " said Lloyd Williams.

He said he was aware of a drain that was overflowing, but said that was rectified by the Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC).

"It was just one pipe that was blocked and the parish council had rectified that," he said.

With reports surfacing that some vendors had no food handler's permits, Williams explained that some of the permits were expired and vendors didn't get the chance to renew them. "There are select days that you go and do the test; and remember we also had the three-day lockdowns and everything, so it didn't work with their time," he said.

"We are just waiting to hear from the relevant authorities in the upcoming meeting, because we don't know what is happening. We have bills piling up now and from our understanding, the main issue was with the grounds, the partitions falling apart in the bathroom, the water running, and things like that." The vendors say they may have to seek other sources of income.

CEO of the MMC, Winston Palmer, said the issues highlighted by the health department, including the need for a soakaway and bathroom repairs, are currently being rectified.

Palmer said the health department may need to review some of their recommendations.

"The yam stalls are very small, and their recommendation is that you put three sinks in there; a double sink, plus a 'wash hand' sink. These are not big restaurants. These are stalls where people roast yam and salt fish. There is a concrete wash hand sink on the outside already. Where in those stalls can you put a double sink, plus a wash hand sink?" Palmer questioned.

Palmer suggested that the health department should assess individual stalls once the refurbishing has been done and determine which ones should be reopened.

However, Chief Public Health Inspector for Manchester Charmaine Palmers-Cross said she does not see the need to serve individual notices on vendors as the facility is already closed, and the health department's requirements will have to be implemented for reopening to take place.

"We usually ensure that all the requirements are met [before reopening], and the vendors have a responsibility as they are feeling it the most. I am almost sure that whatever responsibility they have, that they will put those in place."

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