Negril Chamber vows to continue lobbying for marketThursday, April 15, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
NEGRIL, WESTMORELAND - The Negril business community has vowed to sustain its fight for the construction of a building to house a fruit and vegetable market in the resort town, which it has been lobbying for more than 20 years.
The absence of the facility has resulted in vendors plying their goods under less than desirable conditions on a private property in the town.
“Where those ladies are [selling their goods] is a private property which the owner has allowed them to stay but not for too long, because it's valuable land that they will want to develop. So, we are pushing hard to get this market because we think we deserve it,” stated Daniel Grizzle, immediate past president and director emeritus of the Negril Chamber of Commerce.
“We think it (fruit and vegetable market) will be part of the [tourism] product and it's a necessary thing to have a market when you think of the size of Negril because Negril is not what it used to be, a little fishing village anymore. Negril is now a little town and we should be treated as such because let's not forget, we contribute 29 per cent of the revenue gained from tourism, and that's not chicken feed. But so far, we continue to be neglected by successive governments, and I think it's time now for us to be recognised for what we are, and it's time now that they put some value to our resort. We need to be upgraded,” Grizzle argued.
Three years ago Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie had pledged to work with the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) and the Negril Chamber of Commerce to make the creation of a proposed $70-million facility in the town for fruit and vegetable vendors a reality.
“We had the design for the market. The Government decided that they would do a different design which was fine. Since then, they have sent the design to us. We have okayed it [and] send it back,” Grizzle charged.
In December 2019, McKenzie, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer West, confirmed that the design for the facility was completed.
However, before construction can commence, soil testing must be conducted and a building plan from the local government ministry submitted to the Negril Green Island Area Local Planning Authority (NGALPA) and the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation for approval.
The corporation has since contacted the agency that will conduct the soil test for a pricing on the work to be undertaken.
“Whenever we get that invoice I am going to give it to the chamber because they say they will stand the expense. So, I am waiting on that. But, we haven't received a blueprint from the ministry as yet on it (proposed facility for the fruit and vegetable market),” said WMC Chairman Bertel Moore.
“So, once the blueprint is done, they ( Ministry of Local Government) will place a costing to it and then it will be left up into the minister's hand to do the rest, not us (WMC). The only responsibility that we have, and is because they asked us to do it, and that is to get the [soil testing] invoice from the agency,” added Moore.
A disappointed Grizzle told the Observer West that the chamber is to intensify its lobby in the coming weeks in an effort to make the facility a reality.
But, Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western Morland Wilson, in whose constituency the proposed site for the facility falls, is urging the Negril business community to exercise patience, adding that the building to house the market will be constructed during the 2021/2022 fiscal year.
“When I spoke to the minister (Desmond McKenzie) last November, he indicated this financial year and we are like a week in the financial year going into the second week. So, I think they (business community) will have to exercise some patience. I know it has been more than 15 years, but we have to work with a timeline, it can't be immediately,” stated Wilson.
“I find that there has been a bit of a push for things to be done instantly, like tomorrow morning, [but] it can't work like that. You have processes and procedures that allow for checks and balances and accountability that must be followed, and I did share all of this with them.”
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