JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The community of Clifton, in St. Catherine, is to be transformed from being a squatter area, to one with major infrastructure, and the residents becoming owners of the land.
  • Under the Community Regularization Programme, run by the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings, the old estate houses for sugar workers will be upgraded and several amenities will be constructed in the community.
  • According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SCJH, John Gayle, the programme will enable residents to have land titles to their properties.

The community of Clifton, in St. Catherine, is to be transformed from being a squatter area, to one with major infrastructure, and the residents becoming owners of the land.

Under the Community Regularization Programme, run by the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings, the old estate houses for sugar workers will be upgraded and several amenities will be constructed in the community.

According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SCJH, John Gayle, the programme will enable residents to have land titles to their properties.

“Where persons are living in areas that are vulnerable – close to rivers and areas that are prone to hazards – those persons are to be relocated,” Mr. Gayle outlined recently, while speaking to more than 100 persons in the community who were presented with certificates of title.

Another 400 persons are to be presented with titles to their land, by year end, he noted.

He said once the area is suitable for houses, as Clifton is, they will build wholesome communities. Some 12.78 hectares are earmarked for housing development, and Mr. Gayle informed that agencies such as the St. Catherine Parish Council and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) are involved in the development process.

“We want you to be living somewhere that is safe and comfortable. The plan will see improved roads and access to utility and water,” the CEO added.

Mr. Gayle said care was taken to ensure proper sewage treatment for the community, and the area will have an early childhood institution and an after school facility for adults.

“You will also see increased commercial activities within the community, in a more organized way. We are going to work with you to harmonize those,” he said.

Beneficiaries under the programme are persons who have been living and working with the former sugar factories, prior to divestment to the private sector. While the residents will obtain the land free of cost, they have to pay for the necessary infrastructure.

“Once you pay for the cost of the infrastructure, we will progress to having your water supply and your waste disposal system up to standard. You will have proper roads and light,” Mr. Gayle said.

Provision has also been made for a facility offering day-care/nursery to support babies and toddlers. Design of the area will ensure prudent use of natural resources and environmental protection, and the promotion of activities that will drive social and economic advancement of the residents.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, said “phenomenal” work is ongoing to transform communities, which will ultimately improve the social wellbeing and social security of residents.

“Through the various projects being implemented under the Sugar Transformation Unit, we are able to invest not only in physical infrastructure of designated communities, but also in the lives of people who reside in those communities,” the Minister said.

After receiving her certificate of title, a member of the community, Natalie Burke,  said she was very happy.

“We have proof that we are owners of Clifton. I am proud that we stayed here and we are reaping the sweetness of our fore-parents,” she said.

For her part, Chairman of SCJ Holdings, Mrs. Donna Scott-Mottley, said that with the residents no longer designated as squatters, they are on the road to improving their lives, and building a community that they can be proud to live in.

“It is not about housing, it is about building a sustainable economy with commercial activities and training,” Mrs. Scott-Mottley said, stressing that SCJH is allowing the residents to become legitimate property owners.

Member of Parliament for South St. Catherine, Mr. Fitz Jackson, said the community will stand as a model for others to emulate.

“Clifton is going to demonstrate how you can build a model community for all to see,” Mr. Jackson said.

The other parishes in which the SCJH is carrying out regularization are: Clarendon, Westmoreland, Trelawny and St. Thomas. The programme will facilitate some 30,000 persons living on sugar lands in over 80 communities.

SCJ Holdings is owned by the Government of Jamaica, with a mission to provide efficient land management services that will foster sustainable, economic and social development in former sugar dependent communities.