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Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson yesterday (March 3) handed out documents of ownership to the first batch of 68 persons who have benefited from the National Housing Trust’s (NHT) development of some 664 service lots for workers of the Frome Sugar Factory in the parish of Westmoreland.
The presentations were made at an official ceremony, which was held at the development site Albany (Meylersfield) near Little London in Westmoreland. This development is in keeping with the Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 2000 between the Trust and the three unions representing workers on ten sugar estates across the country. Under the MoU, some 5,000 affordable housing solutions, over a five year period, were provided to sugar workers who were first time home owners and eligible NHT contributors. In keeping with the development standards, the approximately 90 acres or 37 hectares of land earmarked for the project will contain all the basic utilities such as electricity, street lighting, centralized sewerage treatment ponds, metered water. Space has also been earmarked for communal facilities. In addressing the handing over ceremony, State Minister for Industry and Tourism and Member of Parliament for Western Westmoreland, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, congratulated Mr. Patterson, the NHT, the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) and the unions for making more land and houses available to the hard working people of the country. “I believe that the most important investment that anyone makes in his life is their land and their house and we should ensure that everybody has the opportunity to buy their land and build their home,” Dr.McNeill stated.
He commended all the beneficiaries and urged them to work together to make the development a model in the country.
Meanwhile, President and CEO of the Sugar Company of Jamaica, Livingstone Morrison, said the distribution of lots would serve as a major motivation towards greater productivity of the workforce at Frome Sugar Factory, as efforts were doubled to attain and maintain international standards in all aspects of its operations.
He informed that as at March 2, the factory had produced more than 25,000 tonnes of sugar and was well on the way to recovering some of the ground which was lost because of the hurricanes and the long period of droughts during last year. “We are particularly pleased with the performance of the factory which benefited from an extensive repair programme during the out-of-crop period,” Mr. Morrison said.
He also observed that the cane fields were showing signs of recovery and the high levels of motivation that was typical of the Frome employee was returning. Mr. Morrison further expressed confidence that with the provision of resources for retooling, and with the support and commitment of the unions and the support of workers, cane farmers and communities, progress towards reviving this most important industry would be made.