Director of Agriculture, Melvin James

Press Release

Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 21, 2016 (SKNIS): The Basseterre Market is under active discussion to determine its location, its layout and available facilities, but in the meantime renovations have to be made to ensure the health and safety of vendors and customers.

This is according to Director of Agriculture, Melvin James, who was the featured guest on the Government programme “Working For You.”

“It is obvious, it (the Basseterre Market) cannot remain as it is right now, that is why the discussion is so pertinent,” he said, emphasizing that there is much public talk pertaining to the market and that such would be brought to a formal setting in order for all views to be taken into consideration by the decision-makers.

He explained that some of the decisions that would have to be taken include: whether to move the market, if it remains where it is – how would the facilities be accommodated, was there need for a second floor and what would be the design of the market.  There was even the possibility of engaging the residents next to the market to determine if they were willing to sell land in order to expand the market in the same location.  The historical value of the site was also a consideration.

The Director of Agriculture further noted that while such is being deliberated there was need for immediate renovation to the market.

“The bottom line is that work will have to be done on the market, so as to improve it, so as to upgrade it, considering normal international health standards, so that there’s no incidence of contamination and illnesses by food-borne pathogens,” Mr. James said.  For example, we are contemplating air-conditioning the meat room, but it must be done using materials so that you get the greatest efficiency.”

It was explained that the ongoing issues experienced by vendors using the market would certainly be addressed including leaks in the roof, broken chairs and necessary improvement in the electricity supply.  The open drains were described as a legacy inherited from the initial construction of the market decades ago, when it was considered the norm to allow one’s waste water to run through the neighbour’s yard.  This problem, he assured would also be fixed.

While admitting that the general public should have been better informed of the upgrades currently taking place, Mr. James did reveal that the blocking of the streets from vending was being done to “direct traffic into the market, and so we want to make sure that when we send you down there, we send you into a nice and wholesome place.”

Mr. James reaffirmed that the market was the preferred place to conduct the sale and purchase of agricultural produce.

“We are doing this (upgrades) because we want greater utility of the market, we want greater use,” he said, adding that a great number of the stalls were not being utilized.  “We see lots of folks on the road selling, and they’re selling at the expense of going into the market.  We must upgrade so that we attract the persons back into the market.  We must ensure that the market is of a certain quality, of a certain standard that it does not compromise health and food safety.”