'Ochi' market needs attention
Orantes Moore, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
The Ocho Rios market in St Ann is no longer fit for its purpose and in desperate need of redevelopment, according to several of the town's leading commercial and political representatives.
Speaking recently during a Gleaner Editors' Forum to investigate the state of the popular north coast tourist destination, councillor for the Ocho Rios division, Dr Rohan Williams, expressed disappointment at the condition of the town's main trading area and called for urgent action to be taken.
"Our market needs attention and is a real challenge to all of us. It's a challenge to the parish council because we are facing austerity measures and funding is not readily available," Williams said. "However, where the market is concerned, for a resort town, we really need something better."
Custos of St Ann, Norma Walters, added: "For me, the market where locals go definitely needs to be constantly looked at."
Walters' comments were echoed by the deputy mayor of St Ann's Bay, Delroy Redway, who said: "From the perspective of the St Ann's parish council, as the local authority, we are not satisfied that we are at a point where we can sit back because we still have concerns in terms of the market zone."
Unreasonable rental fees
Vendors in the market complain that although the building's infrastructure is old and decrepit, they are nonetheless compelled to pay unreasonable rental fees.
To help resolve these issues, the St Ann Chamber of Commerce advisory committee member Dr John McDowell believes the local parish council may have to consider handing over control of the marketplace to commercial interests.
He explained: "I think the market is an absolute disgrace. A market should be a tourist attraction, but I hope that no tourist ever attempts to go into our market because it is a ghastly place.
"Why can't something be done about it? Perhaps the solution is to have it privatised? I really think we should give this idea some serious thought."