- Much like the Melrose Hill yam park in Manchester, Boston Jerk in Portland, and Little Ochi located on the border of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, the newly constructed Ackee Village in Portmore could become the next major food/rest stop in Jamaica, attracting locals and visitors to the island.
- The well laid-out park, which occupies some 26 acres of land, comprises 20 shops/kiosks, with more to be added in further phases of the project.
- Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who unveiled the sign for the Ackee Village in July, said the market “is a great project for Portmore and for the municipal corporation”.
Much like the Melrose Hill yam park in Manchester, Boston Jerk in Portland, and Little Ochi located on the border of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, the newly constructed Ackee Village in Portmore could become the next major food/rest stop in Jamaica, attracting locals and visitors to the island.
The market, developed at lands along the Dyke Road, which links Portmore to the Mandela Highway, provides a safe and convenient space for cooked food and fresh produce vendors who previously plied their wares at makeshift stalls along the busy thoroughfare.
The well laid-out park, which occupies some 26 acres of land, comprises 20 shops/kiosks, with more to be added in further phases of the project.
It includes modern bathroom amenities, garbage-disposal facilities, potable water, electricity, a spacious parking lot, a gazebo and a children’s play area.
The $15-million project is a collaboration involving the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Portmore Municipal Corporation, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities International under its Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) programme.
Mayor of Portmore, Leon Thomas, has informed that two additional phases will be added, and discussions are under way with business partners to build 40 more kiosks.
“We want to double it. For phase three of the project, we want to build restaurants, bars, riverside park, amphitheatre and things like that,” the Mayor noted.
The expansion could make the area a major draw for visitors.
Mr. Thomas called on consumers to utilise the park, and urged vendors to keep the facility in good condition and provide the best customer service.
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine East Central, Alando Terrelonge, noted that there is opportunity to develop the area into a tourist attraction, providing more economic opportunities for the residents of Portmore.
“It is now a tourist project for Portmore. This is a one-stop for food and recreation, and we want to market this product to the rest of Jamaica. Before you hit the highway to head down to the north coast, stop right here at Ackee Village. Come and get your ackee, get your roast breadfruit, get your yam, I mean, get your refreshments because this is what the wonderful people of Portmore and the vendors have to offer,” he said.
Mr. Terrelonge said vendors are safer now, having been relocated from their previous spot where selling of produce at the roadside contributed to traffic congestion to and from Portmore.
“Vendors no longer have to be battling with cars; motorists can now pull over, they can park, they can spend time to appreciate this tourist product,” he pointed out.
Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, who unveiled the sign for the Ackee Village in July, said the market “is a great project for Portmore and for the municipal corporation”.
He noted that the Ministry contributed in excess of $11 million for the undertaking, with the last $6 million going towards roadworks.
He gave the commitment to ensure the completion of this project so that vendors can move in soon.
Minister McKenzie encouraged the vendors to sign up for space in the village, as no further extension will be given for them to continue selling on the side of the road.
Meanwhile, the vendors have welcomed the new facility, which they say will improve service delivery and provide greater security for customers.
For vendor Al Green, the village is much appreciated.
He said that having access to running water and the other amenities will boost business and give them a sense of pride as serious entrepreneurs.
President of the Ackee Village Vendors Association, Samantha Biggs, said that the bathroom facilities are part of the welcome features of the new environment.
“We have more safety, persons can pull off the road and come,” she told JIS News.
She noted that the project has also brought the vendors closer, and “we are here to support each other”.
Ms. Biggs said that prior to the opening of the facility the vendors received training in customer service from the HEART Trust/NTA.
“It was an eye-opener to us,” she said, noting that they will be incorporating the skills learnt in their businesses to improve service to customers and ultimately grow their operations.
Both the municipal corporation and vendors say they are pleased with the collaboration with the police to provide regular patrols of the facility.