The fire-ravaged Musgrave Market in Portland is to be rebuilt with fire safety features, to aid in preventing a reoccurrence of the May 28 event that displaced several vendors and their businesses.
Speaking during a tour of the market on Friday (June 16), Local Government and Community Development Minister, Desmond McKenzie, said that the Jamaica Fire Brigade “will ensure that the fire safety features that they insist on in private and other buildings, now become a part of the new Musgrave market”.
The Minister expressed that there is now an opportunity “to make a new start” while assuring that the vendors will have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about the market.
He told the vendors, some of whom were present at the tour, to “nominate two or three persons who will sit with the Ministry and the Municipality to discuss how we proceed with the market”.
“We’re not going to do anything without [you] being a part of it. What we want is for you to be there around the table so that you understand what is taking place and your input will be considered because this is going to be important,” McKenzie said.
He reiterated that the Ministry had already provided some J$10 million to carry out cleaning up exercise at the facility, for which he commended the Portland Municipal Corporation for ably leading this activity.
VENDORS URGED TO APPLY TO JPS
The Minister also pointed out that when the market is rebuilt, new measures will be in place for the vendors, particularly where getting electricity is concerned.
“Vendors have a way in getting electricity. They throw up (wires) or they go in on the system that is there, and they overload [it]. They have fridge, they have TV, they have washing machine…all sorts of things in the market and they are on the JPS [Jamaica Public Service] grid without applying to JPS,” he explained.
As such, he said that in the renovation exercise, “persons who operate little shops that want electricity, [will] have to apply to JPS for light within the market”.
The Minister further noted that the repairs, management, or operation of the Musgrave market is the sole prerogative of the Portland Municipal Corporation and the Ministry.
He commended Member of Parliament for East Portland, Ann-Marie Vaz, for her efforts in providing funds to some of the displaced vendors in the aftermath of the fire.
“And I welcome any private individual who wants to come on and to help with the restoration of the market, but if they are coming, they have to come through the process that exists which is the Municipality and the Ministry of Local Government,” Minister McKenzie said.
MARKET REPAIRS TO TAKE TIME
Regarding a timeline for the completion of repair activities, the Minister said that the process “will take some time”.
“We are well down with the wicket in terms of what the concept (and) designs are. The Ministry has been here working, we are looking at a number of designs…and then there’s the procurement part of it; the part where we have to ensure that whatsoever is done, is done in a transparent way,” he said.
In the meantime, McKenzie informed that the Municipal Corporation has made temporary arrangements for vending to take place in the parish capital.
For her part, Vaz reiterated that the clean-up was done “exceptionally well” by the Municipal Corporation.
“There was a unity and a camaraderie that was displayed in the market that was lacking and you have all shown that,” Vaz told the vendors, as she urged them to continue cooperating with the process.
“This has seamlessly been taking place since the fire. Out of adversity comes opportunity and this is one opportunity that the Municipal Cooperation and the Ministry are going to use to ensure that we rebuild better, bigger, and more user-friendly, both for the vendors and for the people who come to the market,” she said.