SEVERAL PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN BY DEPT. OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN 2010
BY: CHRIS PATTERSON
|Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with
responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague (centre); Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Bertel Moore (right) and Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Dr. Wykeham McNeill participate in the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Westmoreland Municipal building, in Savanna-la-Mar, on November 11.
Consumers who use the Coronation (‘Curry’) Market would have experienced a much improved environment last Christmas, as the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) worked diligently to increase vending facilities as well as improve the shopping atmosphere in downtown Kingston.
This represented the first phase of the restoration of the market, which has benefitted from $100 million in funding from telecommunications giant, Digicel Jamaica. Phase Two of the project has already begun.
The market restoration project was only one of a number of projects undertaken by the local authorities and the Department of Local Government during 2010, under the leadership of Minister of State, Hon. Robert Montague. Phase I included the installation of a roof, flooring and a water system.
|Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Robert Montague (second right), examine a plan for the new Municipal building in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland with (from left), Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar, Bertel Moore; Custos of Westmoreland, Hon. Owen Sinclair; and Member of Parliament for Central Westmoreland, Dr. Wykeham McNeill. Occasion was a ground-breaking ceremony for the new building in November. |
Other aspects of the project include repairs to the roof of the Redemption Ground Market, as well as renovation to sections of the Queen’s Market. Additionally, a large area adjacent to the Coronation Market is being paved, and is expected to accommodate over 1,000 more vendors when completed. Extensive repairs are also slated to commence on the Fish Market.
Jamaica Fire Brigade
In October, the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s (JFB) capacity to respond to emergencies was boosted with the provision of state-of-the-art rescue equipment and protective gear valued at approximately $20.8 million.
Included among these were 30 sets of protective gear, five extrication tools (jaws of life) and two tripods. The two tripods are the first of their kind for the Brigade, and will enable the rescue of persons trapped in confined spaces.
Mr. Montague in
October presented the JFB with $5 million, $4.5 million of which will be used to renovate the fire station in Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth, while the remaining $500,000 will go towards completing the May Pen fire station.
During the year, the parish of St. Mary benefitted from a new fire truck. The unit has a 100-foot extended ladder, which is suitable for high rise buildings and certain rescue operations. It will be based at the new Boscobel International Airport.
Earlier in the year, a new dormitory was opened at the Brown’s Town Fire Station, in St. Ann. It was constructed at a cost of $1.5 million.
National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA)
The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) received a boost to its work with the addition of 22 new units to its fleet.
Additionally, the Authority completed repairs to the Aljon Compactor. The equipment, which was brought back into operation at a cost of approximately $7 million, is expected to save the Authority approximately $40 million annually in equipment rental.
Good news emerging early in 2010 from the Board of Supervision was that infirmaries are gradually becoming self-sufficient in meeting their nutritional needs. Thanks to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a thriving poultry, hatchery and vegetable garden project is now being administered across the island.
In addition, the infirmaries now supply their local markets with eggs and chicken meat under supervision of the local Board of Health.
In October, ground was broken for the construction of a new Infirmary in Hanover. The new facility, to be built at a cost of approximately $27 million, will provide accommodation for about 40 persons and will replace the current facilities.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, Mr. Montague said the project would see the roll out of a new prototype (community home), which will be used as a blueprint for the development of other infirmaries islandwide.
In addition, work has commenced on the building of the new male ward in St. Thomas, which is to replace the one destroyed during Hurricane Dean.
Of significant note in 2010 was the partnership developed between the Department of Local Government and the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), in an effort to deliver some 2,600 birth certificates to persons islandwide.
This initiative is to ensure that the registered poor obtain their Tax Payer Registration Number (TRN), so that they can access benefits under the National Health Fund (NHF), and the Jamaica Drug for the Elderly Programme (JADEP).
“We have discovered, through our Poor Relief Department, that a lot of our elderly folks cannot access social welfare programmes that are available for them, because they do not have a TRN. And, although the Government has adjusted that requirement that you can use your school record or a letter from a Justice of the Peace (JP), a lot of persons are still not coming forward to access PATH or JADEP, or the NHF benefits. It is also important for our statistical records that persons in Jamaica are counted,” State Minister Montague said.
The Department also partnered with the Land Administration and Management Programme (LAMP), to reduce fees being charged for cash-poor persons who apply for land titles.
In 2010 fees began to be calculated on the unimproved value of the land, reducing the 40 per cent that was required for deposit and making the fee $5,000 across the board.
The State Minister has said the Department of Local Government is committed to delivering over 12,000 titles within a two-year period.
In November it was announced that nine markets were selected to be renovated under Phase One of an $18 million islandwide market beautification programme, spearheaded by the Department.
They are: Constant Spring, in St. Andrew; Ocho Rios and St. Ann’s Bay, St. Ann; Buff Bay and Port Antonio, Portland; Oracabessa and Annotto Bay, St. Mary; Falmouth, Trelawny; and Lucea, Hanover. All the markets being renovated will be painted in the national colours.
In November, the St. Thomas Parish Council created history, when it became the first local authority to launch a Customer Service Charter.
The Charter will serve to guide the code of conduct and overall service offered by the Council. The other councils which have followed in developing Customer Service Charters are: Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC); St. Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester.
State Minister Montague told JIS News that the final drafts are being done on the other four charters.
A number of rural communities lit up literally in 2010 when they finally received electricity, opening the doors to many opportunities.
The Department of Local Government partnered with the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) to provide electricity to these communities.
Approximately $60 million was budgeted by the Department of Local Government to construct two Municipal buildings, and to expand another facility to accommodate the operations of the St Thomas and Westmoreland Parish Councils as well as the Portmore Municipal Council.
Making the announcement at the launch of the St. Thomas Parish Council’s Customer Service Charter, in Morant Bay, Mr. Montague said that preliminary designs had been completed for St. Thomas, while the plans for Portmore were being redesigned.
He also announced that arrangements were being made to allocate approximately
$40 million to each of the 14 municipal councils to assist in repairing the infrastructural damage caused by heavy rains associated with tropical storm Nicole in October, and other severe weather systems. The allocations are part of the US$400 million ($36 billion) Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP), being financed by a loan negotiated between Jamaica and China.
Additionally a new municipal building is to be constructed in Black River for the St. Elizabeth Parish Council. The new building will be constructed at a cost of $12 million, and the old building will be used as a museum for the parish.
In March, the Municipal Police Corps of the Department of Local Government was strengthened with the addition of 28 new officers, increasing the establishment to 180 members. The 28 graduates, including 11 females, were drawn from St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland, St. Ann and St. Mary and were assigned to those councils.
The new officers represent the seventh cohort intake since the five-week course commenced in January 2008. The course is taught at the Jamaica Police Academy.