Interview at New Forum Fishing Village
DGM LORNA PERKINS TALKING NOTES
Give us a background to UDC's initiative of establishing this new fishing village
In January 2014, the Forum Hotel was sold to a group of private investors - Portmore Marina Development Limited. As a condition of the sale, the UDC was obligated to clear the Forum beach of all occupants. The UDC therefore had to remove the illegal occupants who were operating there. They subsequently issued the residents Notices to Quit the beach.
However, the UDC was concerned about the fate of the fishermen and commercial interests. Inaddition, they saw this as an opportunity to continue the business relationships these occupants had with their customers and so decided, in consultation with the UDC Board, to construct at new fishing location at a suitable site. We searched and found this location - Sector M - was a good site to have a fishing village. This site was also the agreed location by the occupants of the beach as discussed at a meeting held with UDC in June 2014.
The fishermen and the business operators from the beach were not left out of the loop. We have had a series of meetings with them during the life of the project, informing them every step of the way of the plans the UDC had for the property and any challenges we faced in advancing its construction.
We were also mindful of the challenges they had in relocation, so the UDC gave a grant of$45,000 to each fisherman or business person who had been operating from the area.
In addition, the UDC was quite understanding by extending the time the occupants had to vacate the beach. It was an unusual relocation, in that we did not have any volatile situations where we knocked down their establishments. In fact, the UDC assisted many of them in carrying their material and belongings over to the new site.
The assistance also involved helping them to organize themselves in a fisherman's co-operative which will eventually manage the operations of the fishing village once the UDC turns over this function to them.
What are some of the facilities that are available to the occupants of New Forum Fishing Village?
During the various meetings we had with the former beach occupants, the UDC also shared the design layout for the new fishing village which would include facilities for fisher folk such as gear sheds for storage of equipment; a separate fish-scaling area; a mooring section; and on-site fuel storage section.
Amenities for commercial entities will include 12 x 12 units to accommodate each commercial interest which was at the previous location. UDC will provide foundation for the structures and connection for utilities.
In addition, there will be proper parking facilities; separate bathrooms and shower facilities; a garbage collection area and an approved sewerage disposal system. Please note that the planning and environmental agencies including NEPA and the Portmore Municipal Council were consulted in the entire process.
How has been the response of the previous occupants of the beach who are now accommodated here?
As one can expect from a project of this magnitude and complexity, there were some delays inrelocating the residents at the time we had indicated. Also, many of them were not in favour of the move, because change is sometimes difficult, however, many of them realize the benefits to having an orderly, registered business such as this, so many are settling in nicely. In fact, we have no commercial spaces available. All of them have been taken up.
When is the anticipated end date for the construction of this new fishing village?
What benefits do you believe will accrue to the community?
This New Fishing Village, proposed name 'The New Forum Fishing Village, will raise standards in terms of how to properly care for the environment and raise the sanitary standards because there will be running water and bathroom facilities on the site.
In addition, there will be greater economic stimulation for the community. The Portmore residents will have an attractive, sanitary, orderly site open 24/7 where they can buy fish inaddition to other items. There will be restaurants where they can buy meals also.
What will be the role of the ﬁsherman’s co-operative in this new fishing village?
How has the process of settling into the site been?
What benefits do you think you will gain from this new site?