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After prolonged delays, work is now set to commence on the new Falmouth municipal market and transport centre, according to Falmouth's mayor, Councillor Garth Wilkinson.
The facility, which is to be constructed at a cost of US$3.5 million from the PetroCaribe Fund, comes on the heels of the construction of the Trelawny police headquarters in Falmouth, which was built at a cost of $272.8 million, also with PetroCaribe funds. The facility was opened on March 6.
Construction of the municipal market and transport centre was initially slated to start in September 2012 but was postponed by the Ministry of Transport and Works due to concerns over aspects of the architectural drawings. However, with the required modifications now complete, Wilkinson says everything is now in place for work to commence.
"We are ready to go," Wilkinson told Western Focus recently. "Work should begin early next year, and I can confidently say that the market will be completed by the end of 2014."
"The concerns about the drawings have been addressed, so now it is all systems go," he said. "With this project, you will begin to see our town taking the shape we want."
The multimillion-dollar project is to be located on a site on Market Street, a short distance away from the town centre. The site was shortlisted through a 'swap deal' between the local authority and the Port Authority of Jamaica, which required the current location for the expansion of the cruise-ship terminal.
While Falmouth is now considered a haven for cruise shipping, in former times, the popular 'Ben' Dung' market on Wednesdays, which generally offered goods at bargain prices, was arguably the town's main claim to fame.
However, in the current cruise-shipping era, which has resulted in sections of the town being 'pedestrianised', vendors are no longer allowed to peddle their wares on the street, which was an integral part of the 'Ben Dung' market culture.
While not resisting the proposed change to the town's market arrangements, vendors are hoping that the relocation will not negatively affect their capacity to earn a livelihood.
"To create a more welcoming atmosphere or organised town is great news, but I hope that the plans will include mobilising the customers that come to Falmouth to shop, especially on a Wednesday," said Sonia Thomas, a seasoned vendor. "All I need to know is that the plans include our role because without us, there is no market."