New Irrigation Systems For Rural Jamaica


Cabinet has approved three contracts valued at more than $118 million for the construction of irrigation systems in Seven Rivers, St. James and Hounslow and Pedro Plains in St. Elizabeth.
The contractors are Y.P. Seaton and Associates Limited, which will undertake the Seven Rivers project at a cost of $23.8 million, while the Hounslow and Pedro Plains systems will be completed at a cost of $41 million and $53.5 million respectively by M&M Jamaica Limited.
Water and Housing Minister, Donald Buchanan who made the disclosure at a press conference held at the Ministry on St. Lucia Avenue in Kingston on February 5, said the construction for the Pedro Plains system would commence in July, the Seven Rivers System in October, while work on the Hounslow system, would begin soon after that.
“We are one step closer to revolutionizing agriculture especially in the productive South St. Elizabeth Area,” Minister Buchanan stated.
Noting that Cabinet has also approved a consultancy contract to design and provide construction supervision services for the Port Antonio Water, Sewerage and Drainage project, Minister Buchanan said the programme would “further enhance the development of Port Antonio, with tremendous economic benefits.” This contract was awarded to the firm Kellog Brown and Root in the sum of nearly $200 million. Minister Buchanan noted that already, life was returning to Port Antonio since the development of the Port Antonio Marina.
He also announced that the Water Sector Policy, which has been approved by Cabinet, would be tabled in Parliament early in the 2004/05 legislative year. He said that by this time, he would be able to make a declaration regarding a new institutional arrangement to accelerate the expansion of service in rural Jamaica.
As part of the expansion process, Carib Engineering Corporation Limited would be restructured to enable it to provide more affordable water to rural communities. Minister Buchanan said the objective of the Water Sector Policy was to ensure universal access to water by the year 2010 using a combination of modalities. He pointed out that the commitment was not one that was taken lightly as Jamaica subscribed to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people without access to potable water by 2015.
The Minister said the policy objectives do not only precede the Millennium Goal but also exceed it, as based on the 2001 Survey of living Conditions, 71 per cent of Jamaicans had access to piped water.
On the matter of legislation, he mentioned the amendments to the Irrigation Act, which will enlist farmer participation in the management of public irrigation facilities and the amendments to the National Water Commission Act (NWC) to remove the power of the Minister to determine tariffs and the power of license other operators of water supply systems.
“These amendments to the NWC Act represent the first steps in facilitating private sector participation by guaranteeing independent determination of tariffs and conflict of interest inherent in the former arrangement, wherein the NWC had the power to licence its competitors,” Minister Buchanan pointed out.
In addition, he said that the Chief Parliamentary Counsel has completed the first draft of the Water Supply and Sewerage Act, which will establish a licensing regime for all water supply providers with the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), granting licenses.
He said the bill would be taken to Parliament early in the new legislative year.

JIS Social