The spirit of volunteerism was alive in St. James on Labour Day, Monday (May 23), as representatives from government and corporate entities partnered to upgrade the Charles Gordon Market in Montego Bay.
The market was selected as the parish project for Labour Day by the St. James Municipal Corporation (STJMC).
The scope of the work on the facility, which cost approximately $1 million, included the washing and sanitising of the market, repainting of the main market building, repainting of the car park and a general clean-up of the market area.
The volunteers who came out to support the project included several representatives from Western Parks and Markets (WPM) Waste Management Limited, JPS Foundation, First Heritage Co-operative Credit Union, and other citizens including market vendors.
Among the participants was Deputy Mayor of Montego Bay Councillor Richard Vernon, who told JIS News that with the lessons gleaned from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the market is deserving of the upgrade. He noted that it is “the catalyst of health and a food distribution point” in the municipality.
“We want to ensure that this area is sanitised; it is cleansed, and where necessary, we have to clean up the area and fix up the different sections of the market and facilities,” he said
“We decided that based on what we … experienced over the past two years, we have to ensure that this market district is kept in a manner that is able to create a cleaner environment. … we preserve the area for the food distribution,” he added.
Labour Day activities were in full swing across the parish’s 17 local government divisions, with councillors collaborating with residents to beautify their communities.
“In each division the councillors are carrying out different projects, at least one project in each division… from garbage skip repairs to the painting of classrooms, Councillor Vernon explained.
Deputy Superintendent of Roads and Works at the STJMC Saad Campbell, said work on the market will continue after Labour Day with the construction of sidewalks along Fustic Road, where the market is situated, to give ease of access to shoppers.
“There are plans to erect about 80 metres of sidewalk along Fustic Road, basically to give some delineation to the areas that are drivable and walkable and ease pedestrian access for the…market facilities. In my estimation that should be done within the next two weeks,” Mr. Campbell stated.
“We are looking to spend another three to four million dollars to do the sidewalks. We are going to be repaving the gun court area, which is the main area for vending in the market, just to make it more comfortable to use for both vendors and the persons purchasing their wares,” Mr. Campbell added.
JPS Foundation Programme Officer Allaine Harvey, said some 20 volunteers from the light and power company were on hand to support the efforts of the municipal corporation at the Charles Gordon Market.
“We made a donation in the form of cash as well as we have given painting supplies and we have some 20 volunteers on the grounds from our VOLTS, which is Volunteers on Location to Serve,” he said.
WPM’s Regional Operations Manager (Acting) Dramaine Jones, said the agency’s team of volunteers was pleased to participate in the improvement of the market facility as well as other projects across the western region.
“Being the partners that we are, we decided to support this initiative today for the cleaning and painting of the market. Religiously, we clean the market every Thursday and Sunday… today (May 23) takes on a bit of a different tone where a deeper clean is being done,” he outlined.
Other projects across the parish included beautification of Hill Top and Retirement Basic schools, Gutters Square and sections of the Irwin Community.
The theme for Labour Day 2022 was Re-igniting a Nation for Greatness – Protect our Heritage and Environment”, with the mission to “Mek Jamaica Criss an Clean”.