Terms of Reference for ONR Expanded


The terms of reference for the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR), recently established to head the recovery effort in the wake of Hurricane Ivan, have been expanded.
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, making the announcement at a press briefing at Jamaica House in Kingston today (September 17), said the ONR was now being asked “to facilitate the on-going programme of disaster management and the equitable distribution of relief benefits and supplies, mindful of the importance of these linkages, in effecting a smooth and speedy reconstruction”.
Additionally, a Board to be chaired by Chief Executive Officer of the ONR, Danville Walker, has been constituted “to receive contributions for the Jamaica Hurricane Relief Fund and to disburse money from this Fund to the relevant state, NGO or other bodies undertaking various relief efforts and to ensure that the monies are spent in an efficient, accountable and transparent manner”.
The Board will include a representative from the Cabinet Office/Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), and two government representatives, to cover general disaster and relief areas and the physical infrastructure rebuilding.
This is in addition to representatives from the People’s National Party, the Jamaica Labour Party, the Private sector (4), the Joint Trade Union Research Development Centre, Churches, NGOs, and the Volunteer sector. The Private sector has also agreed to fund the preparation of a pre and post Ivan video of Jamaica, using footage from the media, to be presented to the Diaspora and the Caribbean. The video will also contain information as to the country’s economic status and the effects of the hurricane.
In the meantime, the Board will also retain the authority to identify or utilize appropriate resource personnel to assist in the decision making process.The Prime Minister said the terms of reference took into account the fact that the reconstruction would benefit from, and be expedited if the arms responsible for the distribution of relief benefits and supplies were being smoothly run.
He, however, stressed that it was not intended that the group assume responsibility for distribution. Furthermore, he said the relief arm would be strengthened, taking into account what needed to be done all over the island and the volume of supplies donated by international groups, which are slated to arrive.
The ONR will be located on the premises of the Development Bank of Jamaica on Oxford Road in Kingston.
Mr. Patterson informed that the Jamaica Defence Force would assume responsibility for reception, storage and supervision and security for all types of materials received for relief, at its Camp facilities in Kingston, Montego Bay, Port Maria and Mandeville. They will also be responsible for organizing transport for the supplies.
He said that while he has flown over sections of Jamaica most severely affected by the hurricane, he has also been able to tour small portions on the ground in St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and St. Ann. He pointed out that the portions of Jamaica most severely affected by Hurricane Ivan were those in the southern, south central and western sections of the island.
The Prime Minister said he would be touring other affected areas next week.
Mr. Patterson said in addition to the substantial damage to roofs and homes, the agricultural sector remained the area which has sustained the most damage. This include fisheries, domestic food crops and export agriculture.
He informed that although estimates were still being received, they could not be finalized until access is gained to areas, which still remain cut off.
The Prime Minister said it was hoped that more figures would be received during the course of the weekend, so that a full report of the range of damage could be made next Monday (September 20), which would allow for decisions to be made and a statement presented when Parliament reconvened on Tuesday, September 21.
Continuing Mr. Patterson called for congregations on the upcoming worship days (September 18 and 19), to say special prayers in memory of lives lost and prayers of thanksgiving for lives spared. In addition, he said an ecumenical service would be organized, in consultation with the churches.
The Prime Minister commended the efforts of private and public sector entities, communities and individuals who have co-operated and contributed to all aspects of the relief efforts. “I am very satisfied that we have within our grasps the possibility of turning a disaster into something which will mark a monumental advance in the progress of our nation,” he said.
Mr. Patterson will address the nation in a broadcast on Sunday, September 19.

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