Several vendors, who have sold their produce in the Redemption Market downtown Kingston for many years, were overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement when they saw the newly refurbished facility that was handed over to the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) by the Digicel Foundation on December 14, 2012
The facility has been repurposed from a ground provision market to a haberdashery and is now called the Redemption Arcade.
The project was implemented by the Digicel Foundation in partnership with the KSAC and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), through US$500,000 in funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
A walk through the arcade reveals over 130 spanking new stalls made of metal mesh partitions with electrical outlets, a new roof and improved water, sanitation and waste management facilities.
While most of the work has been done, the facility will not be ready for occupation by the vendors until January, as electrical work has to be completed to ensure the safety of vendors and shoppers.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angela Brown-Burke, thanked the partners in the renovation exercise, noting that the project was a dream come true.
“Today is really a very, very, good day because we have seen coming to fruition, a dream that we have long had. It’s something we have spoken about for so long and then we saw that glimmer of hope when we had the project approved, and it grew when we came and saw that work had started. Here we are today, almost at the finishing line… we are not quite ready for opening but I am proud of where we are today,” the Mayor said.
Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer, Andy Thorburn, spoke of his company’s commitment to the regeneration of the downtown Kingston area and noted that the renovation of the markets was only one of several activities that the company is involved in to make this happen.
“Historically, the downtown Kingston market area has been an essential part of the life of Jamaica. Everyone is here trading and excitedly doing so, and today, we are part of the ceremony to formally open this new facility, where 130 plus vendors will be involved in being successful day-to-day. Digicel and the Digicel Foundation are delighted to be part of this and are looking forward to visiting when the vendors have moved in and also spending some money down here,” Mr. Thorburn said.
United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Pamela Bridgewater, speaking on behalf of USAID, said the renovation of the market represents a significant and positive step in the urban renewal of downtown Kingston.
She noted that the vibrancy of the community is something to be proud of and expressed hope that the partnership between government, private sector and community, which led to the success of the project, will be encouraged and replicated elsewhere.
Vendor, Jennifer Ford, who has been selling in the market for 33 years, expressed pleasure at the newly renovated facility. She is looking forward to moving in and has already chosen her stall.
“I feel good about it (the market). We will be taking good care of it because I use to take care of it before and I will continue to take care of it,” she said.
Councillor of the area, Donovan Samuels, in giving the vote of thanks, urged the vendors and members of the community to protect the facility.