JIS News

Mayor of Kingston, Councillor Desmond McKenzie, has warned persons who illegally operate funeral parlours in the corporate area, to desist from the practise, noting that the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) would be pursuing stringent measures to deal with such persons.
Mayor McKenzie, who was speaking to journalists at the KSAC’s monthly press briefing on February 8, said the mushrooming of illegally-run funeral parlours, which he termed “suitcase undertakers”, troubled the parish council and a team of councillors had been put in place, to make recommendations to central government “to put in mechanisms to control the unhealthy and unethical situation”.
“This matter is of concern to the Council,” the Mayor said, adding that, “in many upscale residential communities you find people turning up and opening up funeral parlours that are unauthorized, and not regularized, and in many of these cases, many of these persons are not trained.”
Mr. McKenzie told journalists that the “suitcase undertakers,” many of whom lack proper facilities, were being kept in business by persons seeking cheaper alternatives to the private morgues.
He noted further, that the problem of overcrowding at the Kingston Public and Spanish Town hospitals, and the absence of a public morgue for the city of Kingston over the last 25 years, had exacerbated the issue.
“So you find that people cannot afford the cost of some of the well established funeral homes in the country so they turn to these suitcase-type undertakers,” Mayor McKenzie pointed out.
According to the Mayor, the Public Health Department had expressed concern about two illegal funeral operations, whose owners were discharging waste matter into drains and gullies. “Everybody knows the kind of problem that can come from that situation because you don’t know the cause of death,” he stressed.
With regard to funeral homes operating in residential areas, Mayor McKenzie cautioned that the KSAC would be collaborating with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) to close down such operations. “Whatever we can use under the Public Health Act, we will be using it to prevent these operations from continuing,” he stated.
He also invited the public to inform the KSAC of businesses in residential or commercial areas, which were operating illegally.

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