By Zaya Williams
After facing numerous setbacks, repair work on the High Street building, which formerly housed the Magistrates Court, has finally reached its final stage.
Housing Minister Maria Browne provided an update on Thursday, expressing optimism that the building would soon be ready to accommodate the Magistrates’ Court once again.
The renovation project had been plagued by several challenges, including shortages of essential construction materials.
Browne acknowledged these difficulties, stating, “We had issues in terms of the availability of cement, steel, and sometimes sand.”
These supply chain problems, combined with financial troubles, had led to significant delays in completing the repairs.
However, Minister Browne conveyed some positive news, revealing that earlier this year, the major construction work, such as casting, stairs, floors, window installation, and roofing, had been successfully completed.
At present, only some finishing touches, including tiling, painting, and other minor work, remain to be done before the building can be fully operational.
The housing minister further announced plans for a competition in September, indicating that the Magistrates’ Court would soon move back to its rightful location on High Street.
Once the finishing work is completed, the court will be furnished and ready to serve the public once again.
The issues leading to the Magistrates Court’s relocation to the community center in Gray’s Farm in April 2019 were rooted in the deplorable state of the High Street and Temple Street building. Court staff had been vocal about their working conditions for weeks before taking action.
In December 2018, through their union, the workers wrote to the Ministry of Legal Affairs, demanding relocation within three months.
In response, the authorities decided on a temporary measure by relocating the court staff to the “Knuckle Block” facility. However, what was meant to be a short-term solution turned into an unexpectedly extended stay.
The community center, initially intended for sports activities, has been housing the court for four years now, far exceeding the estimated six weeks it was supposed to serve as a temporary court location.
The repair work on the High Street building was formally initiated in 2021, following the abandonment of plans to merge both the All Saints and St. John’s Magistrates Courts under one roof, a proposal that was previously considered by then Minister of Works, Lennox Weston.
Residents are eagerly awaiting the completion of the repairs and the court’s return to its original location, bringing back normalcy to the local judicial proceedings.