Long-awaited renovations to the produce exchange and fish and farm store at Potter’s Cay Dock are expected to be complete by the end of March, Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Chairman Bishop Gregory Collie revealed on Friday.
The cost of the renovations is roughly $18,000 to $20,000, the BAIC chairman said.
“Over the years, the produce exchange in particular has been allowed to remain in a rundown, destitute, dilapidated state. Upon assuming office, the management of BAIC and the board of directors decided very early that we were not going to allow the condition to continue. Since Hurricane Matthew, the building, which was destroyed by the hurricane, remained leaking, whereby mold and other dangerous conditions were allowed to exist,” Collie said at a press conference on Friday.
“And so, we have listened and on our own conclusion we decided that we are going to change that condition. The area where the fish and farm store used to be, we have taken the decision to go back into that facility to have it properly repaired and furnished, to show that we can have a sort of modern, clean, air conditioned environment which patrons can come to and purchase their produce in an atmosphere that is conducive. Also, our staff will be able to work in a clean environment which is not detrimental to their health.”
Collie said that section of Potter’s Cay Dock should be renovated within the next 60 to 90 days.
“The target date is by the end of March, to have it fully renovated and refurbished to open it to the public, so that we will be able to continue to sell the produce which helps the farmers on the Family Islands – in particular North Andros, Eleuthera, Cat Island, etc. – to help those farmers to market their produce and have them available fresh from the market to sell to our Bahamian public, so that they can go fresh on their table,” he said.
“We have ordered all of our staff to be relocated. Some of them have returned to the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources. Those who are directly employed with BAIC have been relocated here on the headquarter grounds.”
In the meantime, the produce exchange has been relocated to the BAIC’s headquarters on Old Trail Road.
“So you will find hopefully by next week – our target date is next week Monday – that we are going to have it fully opened so that persons who had to travel out to Potter’s Cay can come directly here to pick up their produce. They will find that the conditions will be conducive to a very healthy and clean environment that they can come to [to] buy their produce. And of course, our staff will be in a better place in terms of location and conditions under which they are employed,” Collie said.
“So we wish to let the public know that we will be here beginning on Monday. The produce exchange will be fully transformed from the Potter’s Cay Dock to the Soldier Road headquarters in the former Ali Glass Building. It’s currently being renovated and fully fitted for that transition.”
This transition, Collie said, will give the corporation a chance to evaluate whether there will be a further need for the produce exchange on Gladstone Road – usually held on Saturdays – thereby eliminating the extra expense and the need to move produce back and forth.
“It may serve as a blessing in disguise, because many people have complained about having to go from the east and the south to go to Potter’s Cay, so for the next several weeks or months it will be here, centrally located and who knows, we’ll see how that operates because it may cause us to make a decision as to whether we will continue to have the full operation here on an ongoing basis, or whether we will decide to continue with our efforts to have it relocated. But nevertheless, we’re going to see how that works out,” he said.