KINGSTON — Infrastructure works are to commence shortly under phase three of the Whitehall housing development in Westmoreland following June 28 signing of a $502 million contract for the project.
Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang and Director at Ashtrom Building Systems Limited, which will undertake the works, Donald Ellis, signed the document at the offices of the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ) in Kingston.
Expected to start this month, the project will entail the construction of roads, storm water drainage, sewage collection system and water installation to serve 579 lots. Sewage treatment services will be provided by the National Water Commission (NWC) and electrical power distribution system and street lights will be provided under a separate arrangement with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS).
A total of 200 starter units will be constructed on 200 of the lots during the construction process, which is expect to last 18 months, while 299 lots will be sold to workers particularly in Negril’s resort sector.
The other 80 lots, which are already occupied by informal settlers, will be regularised under the housing project, Minister Chang informed.
“(We are) formalising where we can; providing adequate number of affordable solutions, and in some cases, relocation. In fact…some of those who will be purchasing land on the particular scheme right now will be relocating from an area where they should not have been (as) they are currently squatting,” he pointed out.
He said that the Government has invested heavily in the housing infrastructure of Negril, which is critical to the north coast, given the fact that many persons flock to Negril, not only for its tourism attraction, but to pursue economic opportunities.
“Negril has always been one of the more dynamic resorts on the north coast and because of that, it attracts persons from all over the island – every craft vendor, every hair braider, everybody is looking for a job…and if we don’t provide adequate housing solutions, we end up with extensive informal settlements,” he said.
He commended the HAJ for “the considerable work done” in addressing squatting not only in Negril, but in Ocho Rios and Montego Bay as well.
Member of Parliament for Western Westmoreland, Dr. Wykeham McNeill, expressed appreciation for the project, noting that he was particularly pleased that all concerns during the previous segments of the housing development are being addressed in the current phase.
He said he was also satisfied that this phase will incorporate adequate green spaces and provide accommodation for commercial facilities. He further expressed appreciation for another aspect of Whitehall’s development, which involves the construction of a sports complex with the assistance of the HAJ.
“I think that the process that has taken place with the Minister, the HAJ…has worked very well and I think what we are going to end up with as a final project, based on all these consultations, is going to…benefit all people in Negril and wider Jamaica. Hopefully at the end of the day, this can be used as a model that we can use in other resort towns,” he said.
By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter