Regional

'Ad hoc buildings'

Negril chamber wants to create new town centre

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, December 14, 2017



Arguing that the Negril town centre has an “ad hoc [compilation] of buildings with some of them in a run-down condition”, President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Lee Issa says the chamber will be seeking partnership with the government in an effort to create a new and attractive town centre.

“Everytime I drive downtown Negril I imagine the possibilities of what this resort town could look like. The sad reality is that we have ad hoc buildings with some of them in a run-down condition. There doesn't seem to be any order to the place. Where the hell have our town planners been?” Issa asked.

“Negril needs a town centre that all of us can be proud of, and where the tourists would enjoy visiting and spending their money. Now they go downtown, they go to the craft market, and everybody comes out of a taxi and they turn around and run back to their hotel. So it is not working. What we have in Negril is not working.”

Issa, who operates two hotels in Negril under the Couples Resorts brand, added: “This town deserves better.”

He was speaking on Saturday night at the 34th staging of the Negril Chamber of Commerce annual gala at Couples Swept Away in the resort town.

Apart from the creation of a new town centre, the chamber is also hoping to expand and renovate the Negril Type Three Health Centre, making it a 24-hour/seven-day per week facility, and to establish a new fruit and vegetable market.

Planning for all three projects is still in the preliminary stages, but the chamber is hoping that within the next 12 months, a date when the projects will get off the ground will be announced.

“We will be pressing the government to assist us. We are not blind to the fact that there is a financial crunch. We are aware of that...we are prepared to go and seek private investment to mix with the government. The government speaks of working with private enterprises, so now we want to take them to task,” said Daniel Grizzle, a director of the chamber.

And stressing that the health centre in Negril “is on life support and needs a blood transfusion”, Issa said the chamber is seeking to adopt the facility, noting that Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has responded in a letter, stating that the ministry welcomes public/private partnerships.

The chamber president noted that funds raised for this year's gala will go towards the refurbishment of the health centre.

“This year we are extremely happy that the funds raised from this event will kickstart the drive for the refurbishment and building of a trauma unit at the Negril Health Clinic,” he announced.

“We recognise that the Government cannot provide all that is required to satisfy the health needs of the population, and so we depend on philanthropic organisations and other partners within and outside of Jamaica.

“This is why one of our major areas of focus is to expand public/private partnerships towards improving access to various services, including diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and other needs of clients of public health facilities,” he argued.

Turning to the construction of a market for fruits and vegetables, Issa argued that “the small market vendors are business people, and we need to raise the bar as to what we can do for these small business people in Negril”.

“We need to showcase the best of what western Jamaica produces in fruit and vegetables, and that's another thing that we will be approaching the government for,” he stressed.

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