Black Immigrant Daily News
Following reports of a breakdown in law and order among rafters in White River, Ocho Rios, St Ann, the police in the parish are again warning those engaging in illegal rafting at the river to desist from their activities.
While not providing details, the police said they are moving to deal with the issues relative to the illegal rafting in the interest of improving tourism and to ensure activities at the area are conducted in a lawful manner.
The overall pronouncements were made by commanding officer for the St Ann police, Senior Superintendent Dwight Powell, who was speaking at the parish’s monthly municipal corporation meeting last week.
Reports emerged early last year that some rafters were operating illegally in White River, with allegations that some of the men were placing the lives of visitors at risk, as they (the rafters) were unable to swim.
The illegal rafters were also reportedly affecting regularised rafters and other businesses in White River.
Several meetings were held with various stakeholders to get the situation under control and urge the unregulated individuals to desist from their illegal activities.
Powell said on Thursday that the police will be working to ensure that things return to normal at White River.
He said the police have established a close association with the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to regularly monitor the area.
“The police will be there to support the activities of TPDCo and their contractor as it relates to regularising the situation with the rafters,” he told parish councillors.
“Of course, I don’t want to get into much details in terms of the tactics, but the operation is coming, and so those who are there, be aware that I have a timeline working with,” warned the senior lawman.
After the news broke of the illegal rafting in White River in April of last year, TPDCo said it was aware of the issues and had been engaged in meetings with the persons involved in a bid to get them to discontinue the practice.
TPDCo added that the marine police routinely monitor the river, assisting the agency to enforce the River Rafting Act and Jamaica Tourist Board Act.
“Signs will be posted in areas where illegal activity has been taking place,” the tourism entity said, adding that, “Letters will also be sent to ground transportation operators, warning them of sanctions if they are caught taking guests to participate in these (illegal) activities.”
TPDCo also said all licensed rafts would be clearly mark as a means of determining legal ones from those which are illegal.
At the time, the entity said the Tourism Ministry would draft a water sports policy and have it submitted before Cabinet shortly.
It is not clear if that was ever submitted, or the extent to which those measures were imposed to curb illegal rafting.