Chuck throws out challenge to developers to build courthouses
In recognition of the fact that the Government has an abundance of land on which to build new courthouses but a shortage of capital with which to do so, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is mooting a system of public-private partnership (PPP) by which the much-needed facilities can be constructed.
"I accept that the court facilities are, in many cases, in a shabby condition," Chuck told lawyers present for the General Legal Council Law Conference held yesterday at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston.
"The problem is not that we don't have land to build courts. What we don't have is money, and this is where creativity must be used. So I am now in a process to get into PPP."
Pointing to the five acres of land owned by the Ministry of Justice in St Ann, Chuck indicated that he had proposed that developers come on board to utilise the land for projects that would include the construction of courthouses.
"We want the developers to develop the five acres, put together five six-storey buildings, a shopping centre, but just give me about five courthouses secure away from the crowds," he said to the gathering of lawyers.
RENOVATION OF FACILITIES
Another proposal for which Chuck is pleading for developers to engage in PPP with the Government is the renovation of court facilities in the Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, area.
"I am now looking at a bigger proposal to renovate the whole of Half-Way Tree between Constant Spring Road, Eastwood Park, South Avenue and Hagley Park ... and if I show you this development, it looks good. The problem now is to find the money to put it out there, and the idea is to make Half-Way Tree a real centre for court services," he said.
Chuck also has his eye on commercial development for the old Attorney General's Chambers, which he hopes to achieve through a memorandum of understanding with investors who have already expressed an interest.
"We would put a nice food court on the first floor and then another four storeys to house the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General's Chambers, and the Court Administration Division. These are areas I am vigorously working on to see if PPP can come into place to assist us in a creative way," he added.
Chuck also mooted a proposal for developers to buy out facilities in Montego Bay as the location is unsuitable for a court.
This, he said, would provide some of the much-needed funds to build modern courthouses elsewhere.
"I am hoping that some of you will introduce some of the investors because at the end of the day, it will be an open, transparent process, and once I am there, I will pressure and press for it to happen because that is the only way I can see additional modern court facilities coming to us in the next five to 10 years," he told the lawyers.