'Frustrating to work in Government'
Chuck annoyed by three-year delay for new Mandeville courthouseSunday, August 29, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Justice Minister Delroy Chuck says he is frustrated at the lengthy delay in building a new courthouse for Mandeville due to cumbersome Government procurement procedures.
Chuck, who in 2019 wanted to see the new courthouse built within 18 months, hinted at the possibility of a public-private partnership to execute the project.
“Let the private sector build it and hand it over to us rather than going through this procurement thing, because if we go through this procurement thing is another three to five years, and if we can just get the private sector to do it, it could be done maybe in two years,” he said two Thursdays ago during the commissioning ceremony for 62 justices of the peace and the launch of the Manchester Justices of the Peace Association at Church Teachers' College in Mandeville.
Long considered inadequate for rapidly escalating court requirements and in urgent need of replacement, the more than 200-year-old Mandeville courthouse was damaged by fire on November 7, 2019.
Early last year lands were acquired for the construction of the new courthouse on Brumalia Road, off Caledonia Road, a few hundred metres north of the old courthouse.
Soil testing was done at the location, adjacent to the Southern Regional Health Authority's office last August.
Chuck reiterated his desire to have more courthouses built following discussions over three years ago.
“Over three years ago, the prime minister and I spoke; I said to Cabinet 'I need five courthouses'. They said start out with two — Manchester and St James. Three years passed and we don't even start. We keep going through procurement… It may be that the best way to go about it is to do a public-private sector partnership,” said Chuck.
“It is a frustrating thing to work in Government,” he added. “We have, I think, an acre and a half that we want to put the parish court, but I tell you the truth, it is a frustrating thing to work in Government. When you hear procurement yuh head hurt yuh, because you have to procure to advertise, you have to procure to invite; everything is procurement and from yuh seh procurement, it's six months.”
Meanwhile, he is anticipating that the old courthouse, which now houses the Family Court, will be commissioned for that purpose.
“The Family Court, that is the old courthouse, we are going to be commissioning it and passing it onto the chief justice. I'm hoping we can do that over the next couple of weeks,” said Chuck.
The fire at the old courthouse had forced the relocation of the parish court to James Warehouse Plaza, close to the centre of Mandeville.
Sensitive issues relating to privacy and safety have arisen since court matters were shifted to the plaza, which houses the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) and commercial operations.
Licensed firearm holders, in particular, have voiced concern at having to visit the FLA offices in full view of people who are before the courts on criminal charges.