The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development will provide $10 million to the Portland Municipal Corporation to undertake clean-up activities at the Musgrave Market, which was destroyed by fire recently.
The funds, which will be drawn from the Equalisation Fund, will also be used to provide a temporary market for butchers in the parish, subject to approval of the location by the Public Health Department.
Portfolio Minister, Desmond McKenzie made the disclosure during the National Disaster Risk Management Council meeting at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on June 1.
“We are going to be looking at ways of strengthening the market. It was just three years ago that we spent $15 million renovating the Musgrave market.
“I want to assure the vendors in Port Antonio of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that we restore the market as best as possible. We are working with a private-sector company through the kind assistance of Minister [Daryl] Vaz to come up with a concept for the market that will allow much more space and allow vending to be done in an orderly fashion,” he said.
Approximately 170 vendors have been negatively impacted by the fire, which destroyed a significant portion of the market.
The Minister said the fire also damaged private buildings in proximity to the market. “The investigations are on in earnest. The market is fully insured. The insurance company has been on the location and has [received] a partial report from the Jamaica Fire Brigade. I am not going to give details of that report until it is finalised,” he said.
He commended the Members of Parliament for Eastern and Western Portland, Ann-Marie and Daryl Vaz, respectively, for the role they have been playing in providing assistance to the vendors.
Meanwhile, Minister McKenzie said investigations indicate that a fire at the Linstead Market in St. Catherine on June 1 was the work of arsonists.
He said that the Government “will not bow to pressure from any source” and urged those involved in setting fires markets to desist.
The Minister said over the last year and a half, 17 fires have occurred in markets across the country, which has cost the Ministry more than $100 million in relief support and restoration, among other things.
“Ninety per cent of those who sell in the markets are females, and when we deliberately set fire to our public institutions then it is cause for concern,” he said.
There are some 35 markets across the country.