Causeway fisherfolk being relocated

The small fishing community located on the Portmore Causeway in St. Catherine is to be relocated to land near the Jamworld entertainment venue along the Dyke Road in Portmore.

The community is being moved to facilitate the construction of the six-lane toll highway to replace the existing road. However, the relocation is unlikely to take place before June. This is to allow for the area to be developed to accommodate the fisherfolk, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

Dr. Wayne Reid, managing director of the National Road Operating and Constructing Company, said the government has already put to tender the contract for the development of the land. Dr. Reid said the land on which the inhabitants of the community will be relocated is owned by the government and was being used by the operators of the Jamworld entertainment complex under a lease agreement.

Mayor of Portmore, George Lee, said the Portmore Municipal Council had given approval for the development of a suitable facility from which the residents could store and sell their catch.

“It will be a nice facility, a quite decent and upscale facility being provided on the Dyke Road,” the mayor said. “At the end of the day, they will have somewhere looking good.”

The relocation of the residents has been the subject of controversy since the construction of the highway began. In July last year, the residents staged a massive demonstration when the Port Authority of Jamaica attempted to evict them from the section of the causeway nearest the sea.

This occurred only two weeks after they were paid, some as much as $30,000 by NROCC, the government agency supervising the construction of Highway 2000, to move from the side of the causeway near the Hunts Bay estuary and settle on the opposite side to facilitate the construction of the highway.

According to the PAJ, the fisherfolk could not stay there as the lands were earmarked for the expansion of the port under the current multibillion-dollar expansion programme. Recently, Transport and Works Minister, Robert Pickersgill, announced that the PAJ will be constructing a new US$600 million terminal in the vicinity of the Fort Augusta women’s prison. Furthermore, “if they allow the fisherfolk to remain it would be in breach of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which allows the Kingston Wharves to continue serving as a conduit of trade within the United States market,” Carrol Pickersgill, the PAJ’s legal counsel, said at the time.

Mayor Lee said the new facility will not be conducive to residential use.

“The question of where they will live is a different matter,” Mayor Lee said. “That is a problem central government will have to face.”