JIS News

The Jamaica Bauxite Institute’s (JBI) programme of establishing housing solutions on mined-out bauxite lands is helping to enhance the standard of living of many persons in the small community of Hyde Park in St. Ann.
Situated on approximately 150 hectares of lands mined out by the St. Ann Bauxite Partners, the Hyde Park housing project is now home to several persons who were relocated from nearby communities in the parish.
Approximately 30 per cent of Jamaica’s land surface is covered in bauxite soils, and based on the laws of the land wherever bauxite lands are privately owned the bauxite companies should enter into discussions with land owners to purchase these lands.
Putting mined-out bauxite lands to productive and profitable use is now critical as there is a growing demand for large acreages of mined-out lands for residential, agricultural, and public use.
Land Transaction Administrator at St. Ann Bauxite Partners, Peter Williams tells JIS News that once the company has identified any land or property that has bauxite, they enter into negotiations with the owner. “The land for us to have an interest in it, it would pretty much have to either be land that has bauxite that needs to be mined or be aiding the mining process in some way. We have land purchasers who engage the potential vendor,” he says.
Mr. Williams further explains that once the land is acquired the bauxite company now has a responsibility to ensure that the persons from whom they have purchased the property are relocated.
This relocation exercise must be done in a timely fashion and as smoothly as possible. The overall aim of the programme is to ensure that these persons enjoy an improved standard of living.
“The resettlement programme is aimed at getting persons who we may have moved or need to move from a particular area to a new location. It is really aimed at settling them in a new area and also to make sure that they are settled in an environment not less than what they previously existed in,” he informs.
As much as possible bauxite companies try to encourage a system of equity. Where possible, individuals have the option of choosing where they want to resettle.
During the negotiation process different areas are identified and individuals are encouraged to choose a parcel of land that is suitable to them.
However the land has to be of equal value to their former property and should already have been mined out, rehabilitated and certified by the Commissioner of Lands.
Usually during the negotiation process the land purchasers will indicate to the potential vendor what their options are. This includes taking cash for a portion or all of the land. If there is a habitable structure on the property the company would replace the house and a piece of land similar to what the land owner had before. In addition, if there was a building on the land when the land is purchased, the company would replace the old building with a new structure, built entirely of concrete with at least one indoor bathroom and kitchen. Although some of these houses may have been at various levels of construction, as long as there were distinct rooms, the owner gets back a room for it.
“A lot of these persons they would not have had registered titles for their lands. The lands that we are giving them back we do ensure that they get land titles. As to the replacement of the house, the practice or the rule is that we would measure what the person had, and we would attempt to give them a house as close as possible to the square footage before,” Mr. Williams informs.
“You may find that if the person had a house before you would have an obligation to rebuild one for them. You have cases where they might not have had some of the most modern amenities; we ensure that those are in place, proper bathroom facilities, kitchen, tanks and ensuring that the house is wired, that they get electricity that sort of thing,” he adds.
However for those areas that the lands were being used for farming the land owners will receive a piece of land of equal size to what they had before. These lands are also located in the Hyde Park community. This is to ensure that the persons living in Hyde Park can continue their livelihood.
Additionally some persons may choose to build on these lands instead of farming or they may even opt to sell these lands. Similarly persons can choose to cut the land in pieces. For example if they had five acres of land they may choose to get the land in five different areas of one acre each. However the house sizes are standard.
“The houses that we have there is range from a studio to a four bedroom. If the house is bigger than the standard house we would accommodate it. For those family homes that may have had four or more bedrooms or two families such as parents and adult children living under the same roof special considerations may be given to those families,” he informs.
Mr. Williams explains that either a new house plan would be drawn to accommodate this larger house or a decision would be taken by both the bauxite company and the home owner to build two separate houses either on the same parcel of land, or at different locations.
In addition to providing housing solutions, the company also puts in place infrastructure such as paved roads, electricity, water tanks, schools, and recreational centres such as parks.
“Many of these persons who are living in the Hyde Park area, were not as close to transportation. You found that some persons where they were they did not have certain utilities, and that is available there now,” he says. Sylvia Grey a resident of the Hyde Park community has high praises for the programme. “I was living at a place called Endeavour. It was a back bush like. We never had any good road and Kaiser come around and we get this place over here. Here is much better and I feel much comfortable over here as we have about a mile to walk on the bad road but since I am living here I feel much more comfortable. Taxi can come at me gate, if me coming from market or anywhere taxi drop me right at me gate here so I feel much better now,” she tells JIS News. Miss Grey further says that she would encourage others to become involved in the programme. “I would tell anybody that if they have anywhere the St. Ann Bauxite can help them out. I never expected this as I lived in the bush and sometimes I was really depressed but I feel very good now and tell anybody that St. Ann Bauxite can help them to put them in a good comfortable home as I can entertain anybody in my house now,” she states.
Meanwhile, another resident, Locksley Woodhall is also upbeat about the programme. “The arrangement was that I was supposed to get back one house, but I was in the States at the time and my wife called and told me what the situation was so I told her to carry on until I came. When I came down a bout a few weeks later they came around and I decided to relocate. It (the house) is wonderful, it is beautiful. Let me tell you the truth, the bauxite company has done a lot for Jamaica,” he notes.

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