MINISTER of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie says he is dissatisfied with the pace of construction for the Negril fruits and vegetables market.
During a tour of the parish last Thursday, McKenzie was enraged at the sight of multiple shops erected where the new market is to be constructed.
“Negril is a critical community and it is the only town centre in the island without a market. The plans have been in place since 2017, less than a year after I became the minister. We recognise the importance of the market and I made the announcement that we would provide the funding for the construction of the market,” McKenzie stated.
He added that the monies were made available for the construction but no work has been done.
“The estimate at the time was $76 million and it is still there and waiting. The drawings have been completed and the ministry has done everything it needs to do to ensure the construction moves forward, but more buildings are in the space that the market is to be built. A snail has been moving faster than the municipality!” McKenzie charged.
The minister said he believes the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) has been inefficient in carrying out plans in the parish.
“Mayor, it is disturbing that Westmoreland has not been efficient in moving ahead with plans, like the infirmary. I am asking you, Mayor, to ensure the plans get to the building committee meeting for approval. I am extremely disappointed,” he said to Mayor Bertel Moore.
“The ministry has made a commitment to the people and we're going to fulfil it, but we need the help of the municipality,” McKenzie added.
In his response, Moore, the councillor for the Negril Division (PNP), countered that the WMC has not received any plans for the construction of the market.
“To date, the municipal corporation has not received the plans so the only thing we may be lacking is to serve the notices — and I have called the chamber [of commerce] to ask how to proceed. But we cannot do that until information is received from the Government,” Moore stated.
“I have made a call to the Ministry of Housing to enquire about the relocation up to yesterday and they said they will be sending something soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western, Moreland Wilson, said he was also disappointed with the pace of the project.
“I, too, am disappointed with the pace of this project. It seems as if it is going in reverse, because the last time there were fewer buildings. This is our third visit and nothing has happened. At this point I think it is deliberate, and I am not sure what to think about the council's approach. This cannot be one akin to the infirmary, and I will be doing whatever I can to support the project,” Wilson said.
“This is unacceptable! The WMC could have placed stop orders on the buildings here,” he continued.
President for the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace said that the absence of the plans for the market from the council is not holding up the progress of the construction.
“The plans are not holding up the progress. They will be available at the next meeting [of the building committee] on February 2,” Wallace stated.