Upgrades And Improvements Planned For Facilities At Public Markets

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Jomo Campbell.
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Nassau, The Bahamas – With public markets playing a key role in the country’s economy, the government is turning its attention to ensuring that these sites are pleasing to the public.  As part of his portfolio, the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources has direct responsibility for the management, supervision and oversight of Arawak Cay/Fish Fry, Potter’s Cay, the Market at Gladstone Road, and the recently acquired, Blue Hill Road Farmers Market.  During his contribution to the 2024/25 Budget Debate, Minister Campbell discussed current and upcoming improvements to those markets.

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Jomo Campbell.

“These Public Markets play a vital role in The Bahamas’ economy. They offer a variety of products for sale which range from freshly caught fisheries products, fruits and vegetables, to enjoying your favorite freshly prepared or cooked Bahamian cuisines,” said Mr. Campbell. “Public markets also seek to encourage entrepreneurship, create employment and contribute towards our gross domestic product.”

He said that with Arawak Cay/Fish Fry being world renowned and listed as a tourist attraction by the Ministry of Tourism — and having  been featured in many tourist guides — it is necessary to continue to upgrade and refurbish the restrooms and surrounding facilities.  Other improvements include addressing the grease clogging problem that exists at the site.

“The grease traps will be cleared, cleaned and maintained on a regular basis,” he said. “This will minimize the vexing problem of clogged drains, which occur far too frequently. We have also collaborated with the Water and Sewerage Corporation and the Ministry of Works to assist in addressing the water flow and drainage situation. This work is almost completed.  We conducted a survey of all plots/stalls. Through this survey, we are able to accurately request lease rental fees as fees are calculated according to the area a stall occupies.”

Other upgrades include the installation of spotlights  to alleviate some of the lighting issues. Plans are also on the way to provide additional lighting in the parking lots.

“This additional lighting would serve to help customers, vendors and tourists feel safe. It would also serve as a crime prevention measure. We also intend to install security cameras to complement our safety strategy. There is a plan to install fencing in certain areas, which would be beneficial in addressing the issue of vagrants,” said Mr. Campbell.

He said that conch shells on the northern seawall will be removed to minimize the possibility of conch poisoning due to algae buildup.  Repairs are also planned for the sidewalks at Arawak Cay.

The long-standing issues with lease renewals will also be addressed. “My ministry also intends to tackle the long-standing issue of lease renewals, subleasing and new leases to vendors.  This along with the backlog of lease renewal fees must be addressed in some way or another.  Bringing a solution to this issue is extremely important.  Vendors will have to settle their affairs or face closure like all other businesses in the country,” he said.

The Minister said that improvements are also on the way for Potter’s Cay. “We are all aware of the popularity of Potter’s Cay for locals and visitors alike.  In an effort to maintain the area, we have continued to upgrade the restroom facilities, the administration building and the garbage bin area,” he said.  “We have also executed repairs to the potholes at the main entrance and exit; removed derelict vehicles, pallets and unsightly debris from the garbage bin area and refurbished several lights by Bahamas Power and Light (BPL).   A booth was also installed to house our security personnel.”

Upgrades to lighting are also planned for Potter’s Cay. “There is a need for increased and improved street lighting at Potter’s Cay as the existing is inadequate. The implementation of proper lighting would provide better security for customers, vendors and staff,” said Mr. Campbell. “We also intend to ensure that vendors have access to electricity, so they can rid themselves of portable generator use for power.”

He said that there are plans to install a diesel generator to outfit the administration building. This generator, he explained, would serve to safeguard against power outages and ensure that the restroom facilities and the administration building are not disrupted during power outages.

Potters Cay will also be equipped with a camera surveillance system that should assist with safety and security to customers, vendors and staff. Additionally, the Ministry plans to  install proper signage and relevant markings and intends to modify the existing fruits and vegetables stalls at Potters Cay.

Upgrades are also in the pipeline at the market at Gladstone Road  where vendors provide a variety of products for sale on Saturdays. The Minister noted that while fruits and vegetables are the focus at this market, food processing products, body products, ornamental plants and handicrafts, are also available for sale.

“Upgrades are being made to this market and its surrounding facilities. Electricity, plumbing and painting [have] been addressed at this site. This market is expanding,” said the Minister. He said that an audit of the market has also been completed and the necessary agreements are currently being finalized in order for vendors to begin paying rental fees.

Turning his attention to the Blue Hill Road Farmers Market, which was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture in September 2022.  He said that the purpose of the transfer was to bring focus and structure to this market. As a result, a market manager was appointed to oversee its daily operations.

He said that a general cleanup of the market and other drainage works were recently carried out, and that the Ministry intends to redesign the market to include an administration building to house the market manager and his staff, new stall designs and layout, landscaping and fencing, parking, kiddies corner, etc.

“We intend to provide for the collection and disposal of garbage, as well as provide security services,” said Mr. Campbell.  “There is much work to be done at this market that we will begin to carry out with the assistance of the relevant other government agencies.”

 

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