Jul 02, 2018 News
More than two years have gone by since the project to restore Kitty Market got underway.
And although the restoration is 75 percent complete, the end to the project seems to be nowhere in sight.
Among other things, the Georgetown Mayor and City Council has been blamed for poor planning and management of rehabilitation project. The restoration of Kitty Market is estimated at $250 million but the City appeared unsure about the funds to start the project, let alone complete it.
The project which is being executed by the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has been faced with numerous delays due to cash flow among other issues.
Central Government intervened to rescue the rehabilitation of the Kitty Market when it awarded a contract of $25.1 million to BML Construction Services. This essentially took the remaining project works out of the hands of the City Engineer’s Department that started rehabilitation project on February 12, 2016.
The Council has since been receiving technical assistance from the Ministry of Communities to complete the project.
However in March, the Ministry of Communities received criticism for the project.
An engineer from the Ministry was being blamed for the slow pace at which the restoration of Kitty Market is progressing.
Back then, Councillor Oscar Clarke, who is head of City Hall’s Finance Committee, had visited the site and was told by the contractor that the works are being delayed because an engineer from the Ministry has instructed that external works be completed before the internal works are done.
“Well if a contractor has a job, I don’t know that the contractor ought to be told not to do work inside when he can do work both outside and inside. And if he does that, he can have the project completed ahead of time at less cost. But this contractor is being held up because he is being told otherwise by the engineer who is overseeing the project,” Clarke had reported to the council in March.
“What is happening here? Is there is some deliberate attempt to have this project held up? The contractor said to me ‘my work is being held up…I should have started from the beginning on both external and internal works…now I am almost completed with the external works, I can’t start the internal works. I am still being held up. I have to send people home’. That’s a serious matter,” Clarke concluded.
The M&CC had been adamant that preserving the architectural design of the 19th century structure, as well as ensuring that the original vendors are not displaced were among the priorities for the municipality.
It was stated that the rehabilitated Kitty Market would feature a traditional health centre, offices for payment of rates and taxes, and a space for community councillors.
Shortly after the works started, the Council encountered difficulties. The work was reportedly stymied by the inability to procure materials and also because the Council had owed contractors.
M&CC Councillor, Khame Sharma, has continually raised questions about the completion date for the project, which was announced to be completed last year.
Mayor Patricia Chase-Green has staved off criticisms over the delays, noting that the reconstruction of the market was being financed mainly by the M&CC, and that works would have continued as funds become available.
City Engineer, Colvern Venture, has promised to provide a progress report to councillors. He has not indicated when works will be completed under phase one of the project.
The project commenced two years ago, and vendors are growing frustrated over the temporary accommodations they have had to endure. In January, vendors picketed outside the market for better conditions.
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