–as authorities set aside $130M for rehabilitative works
PUBLIC markets are essential to village economies and community development, and with the conditions of some local markets discouraging shoppers and even the vendors who utilise the spaces to ply their trade, the government has set aside $130 million for rehabilitative works at three of those facilities.
In recognising the need for upgrades to those essential facilities, the government, through the Ministry of Local Government, will be conducting rehabilitative works at the Mon-Repos, East Coast Demerara, Parika, East Bank Essequibo, and Charity, Essequibo Coast, markets.
Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, made the disclosure during a programme on the National Communications Network (NCN); he said that funds have already been set aside for the potential upgrades.
Speaking about the specific injections for each market, the minister said that the Parika and Charity markets will get a facelift worth $30 million each, while some $70 million has been allocated for Phase Two of the rehabilitation project at Mon Repos.
The plan for the Mon Repos Market is to construct a steel frame structure and gradually remove the wooden shacks that are within the facility. Minister Dharamlall noted that the move to start rehabilitative works on these markets is part of a broader plan to improve the conditions of markets across the country and encourage business.
He related that with improved conditions, those facilities can be used to their full potential, to increase profitability.
Project for Public Spaces, a non-profit organisation based in New York, says that the potential economic benefits of public markets and farmers’ markets include direct benefits such as profits to business owners in the market, job creation, sales and real estate tax revenues.
The organisation determined too that such facilities encourage development, enhance real estate values and the tax base, and keep money in the local neighborhood. Public markets also offer low-risk business opportunities for vendors and feed money back into the rural economy where many vendors grow, raise and produce their products.
The spin-off benefits of markets are numerous, and, according to Project for Public Spaces, those benefits range from increasing access to fresh, healthy food to providing important revenue streams.
“But, perhaps most important is the way markets serve as public gathering places for people from different ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic communities. As one of the few places where people comfortably gather and meet, markets are our neighborhoods’ original civic centre,” the organisation related.
Cognisant of those benefits and the fact that Guyana is “on the map” because of its natural bounties and potential for investments, authorities have started the process of enhancing critical infrastructure across the country.
Specific to the plans for local markets, Minister Dharamlall said the work being done will not just encourage shoppers, but also beautify the environment. At the same time, too, this project will not just help in the beautification of the communities in which they are located, but will also create sanitary and healthy environments for both vendors and shoppers.
Plans to enhance local markets were initiated last year, with funds for rehabilitative work being allocated in the government’s emergency 2020 budget.
In providing an update on the work that was initiated last year, Minister Dharamlall said: “I did some site visits recently and works have actually begun again. In terms of Mon Reops, we are doing drains, we are doing a sanitary facility and we had to do some preparatory work for the second phase, so we have now tendered the second phase of which the estimated budget is $70 million that is to upgrade the market into some level of a modern status.”
Some $10 million was budgeted for Mon-Repos, while $18 million was set aside for the East Ruimveldt and La Penitence markets in 2020.