Port Authority could build MoBay justice complex
While no concrete decision has been reached, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has said discussions are ongoing with the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) for them to construct a state-of-the-art justice complex as part of its commercial development in Freeport, Montego Bay, St James.
“Nothing has been finalised as yet, but good discussions have been had between the Ministry of Justice, the Court Administration Division and the Port Authority, “ Chuck told The Gleaner in relation to the construction of a state-of-the-art western regional court complex in Montego Bay.
Chuck said the PAJ will be building a commercial complex on lands it owns immediately across the street from the St James Police Divisional headquarters in Freeport, which fits perfectly into the logistics of the operations of the courts.
“At the highest level, we have met and we feel that a proper [western] court complex can be put there [on the Port Authority complex], and we hope that something can be finalised by 2021 or by the end of the year, “ he said.
“Hopefully, when that is finalised, the Port Authority would build the court for us according to specifications required by the chief justice and the Ministry of Justice,” Chuck said. “So when the Port Authority builds it’s complex, there is a possibility that we will have that developed there.”
SEARCHING FOR APPROPRIATE LANDS
According to Chuck, since taking office as minister of justice, he has been searching for appropriate lands on which to build the much-needed western regional justice complex in Montego Bay, but have found none acceptable before now.
Chuck, in 2017, announced that a section of the Montego Bay Number One Post Office, which adjoins the St James Parish Court, would be converted into additional space for extra court facilities. He indicated that the building project would have taken two years to complete.
However, in June 2019, the justice minister revised the starting time for the construction to some time this year, after Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett indicated that both the Parish Court and the St James Parish Library would be relocated to facilitate a multimillion-dollar development plans for the city’s waterfront.
The leadership of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cornwall Bar Association welcomed the latest development on the establishment of the western regional justice complex.
Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in calling for the commencement of the project, said the chamber is excited; however, she wants the complex to house the Family Court as the existing facility has outgrown its usefulness.
“The building should also include the Family Court, which is currently in an area that people complain about,” Silvera said.
Lambert Johnson, president of the Cornwall Bar Association and who has long been advocating for the upgrading of the courtrooms in Montego Bay and western parishes, said justice will be swift with the new state-of-the-art facility.
“It’s a welcome news. St James will be able to dispense quicker justice, as more and better courtrooms will be available,” Johnson said.
“The Cornwall Bar Association is very excited at this latest development because we have been awaiting our justice centre in this part of the world for a number of years,”’ Johnson told The Gleaner in response to reports that discussions are taking place with the PAJ to build the court complex.
He said when this justice complex is finished, the Government will be able to deliver justice in a timely and more efficient manner.
“We also expected that at its completion, we will have a branch of the Supreme Court sitting here in western Jamaica full-time, so that the people of western Jamaica can see that the courts are not in Kingston alone, “ he noted.