Ground has been officially broken for the construction of the new Port Maria Market in St. Mary which will boast modern infrastructure on completion of the $56 million project.
“A modern market infrastructure is critical to economic development. It is an important component in the effort to reduce the drift from rural to urban centres and is also vital to improved traffic management in and around the market districts,” said Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Community Development.
“This project comes at a time when the administration has identified that there is a need for markets across the country need to get some serious attention. But over the years our markets have deteriorated, not much has been done within the last 10 years to improve the markets across the country.”
He was speaking during the official groundbreaking in the parish on May 30, 2018.
Some $400 million through a partnership with the Ministry of Local Government and Community and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will be spent during the 2018/2019 fiscal year to develop market infrastructure islandwide. The facilities that have already been fingered for improvement works include the Clark’s Town Market in Trelawny; Hopewell Market, Hanover; Charles Gordon Market, St. James as well as the Stony Hill and Papine Markets in St. Andrew.
“This level of investment has not been made in our market infrastructure for many decades and I have to thank Minister Audley Shaw for buying into this vision,” added an enthused Minister McKenzie.
He also cautioned those vendors who were intent on flouting the laws to sell on the streets.
“This market development programme will not be implemented only to have vendors stay outside the facilities. This programme is not only about rehabilitating our markets. It will also be the beginning of the end of the practice of vendors selling their wares on the streets and creating challenges to spatial order and traffic management.”
Mayor of Port Maria, Councillor Richard Creary, said vendors will be temporarily housed at a retrofitted building on the property of the old fire stationhouse in the town capital. He said the groundbreaking exercise represented a “proud day” for him as a son of St. Mary.
“With commitment with dedication through representation; Port Maria has come from behind the clouds and shadow of Portland and St. Ann. We are now seeing true prosperity in Port Maria and we have several developmental proposals for the town including a tour of all the historical buildings and the market will be included.”
Mayor Creary explained that the new-look market, which is operated by the St. Mary Municipal Corporation, will have a two-storey building with commercial space for rental on the top floor. The project was initially conceptualized in 2009 with an identified funding source, however, works were delayed and the talks were resumed with Minister McKenzie in the latter part of 2016.
Dutch Construction is the contractor for the Port Maria Market project which will have a 12-month timeline for completion of phase one.