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UDC Meets with Forum Fisherfolk ahead of Transition to New Site

The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) held another in a series of meetings with the occupants of the Forum Beach, located in St. Catherine on Thursday, October 23, 2014. The Honourable Colin Fagan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and Member of Parliament (MP) for South East St Catherine was in attendance.

At this meeting, the Corporation reiterated that as a condition of the sale of the Forum property, the UDC was obligated to present the beach clear of occupants to the new investors. The fisher folks therefore have until midnight October 29, 2014 to remove structures from the existing location.

Desmond Malcolm, UDC General Manager noted that a decision was taken by the Corporation to aid the fisher folk and the attendant commercial interests in legitimising their activities by establishing a new fishing village at Sector M East which is located on Port Henderson Road (Back Road), St Catherine.

In addition to reminding the settlers of the $45,000 relocation grant given to each settler, Mr Malcolm again informed the occupants of the various amenities that the UDC is installing in the new location.

The facilities for fisher folk will include gear sheds for storage of equipment; a separate fish-scaling area; a mooring section; and on-site fuel storage section. UDC will provide foundation for the structures and connection for utilities such as electricity and water. Once the access connections are completed, the fisher folk will have to apply for and pay their own electricity and water.

Amenities for commercial entities will include 24 by 24, 12 by 12 and 12 by 6 units to accommodate commercial interests which were at the previous location.

In addition, there will be proper parking facilities; separate bathrooms and shower facilities; a garbage collection area and an approved sewerage disposal system.

The UDC will also work with the relevant authorities with the view to having bus stops erected near the site as soon as possible to facilitate client access to the new fishing village.

Concerns raised by the fisherfolk regarding the monthly rental costs were discussed and for the larger 24×24 commercial spaces, the GM indicated that the rent would be further reduced $15,000, down from $20, 000. The initial figure was $28,000.

Hon Colin Fagan, MP, in giving his support to the new fishing village, indicated that the project was a promising one and informed the settlers that he would be willing to collaborate with them, in the form of a co-operative agreement, to ensure the success of the new location.

Over the past few months, a number of capacity building sessions were held with the occupants at the Forum Beach who are being transferred to the Sector M facility. The sessions were aimed at training members of the group and facilitating their establishment and development as a Fishermen’s Co-operative Society. Sessions included a meeting arranged with a representative from the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies.

Fisherfolk have already started the relocation process and are building out their structures in accordance with stipulations agreed on with the UDC.