JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has expressed Jamaica’s gratitude for the assistance provided by the Japanese Government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), for the country’s workforce over the last 20 years.
JICA has enabled some 400 Jamaicans to travel to Japan, through its exchange programme, to benefit from training in several areas, including education, health, governance and agricultural/rural development. The National Water Commission (NWC) has also benefited tremendously from the programme.
Dr. Chang was speaking at a JICA Dialogue and Training Programme seminar, on Thursday (January 28) at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.
“Since 2007, JICA has assisted us to implement, and very successfully, a bilateral project for the capacity building of water maintenance at the National Water Commission. This support has strengthened the NWC’s institutional systems, mainly in the improvement of water quality operation and maintenance, water supply management, unaccounted for water reduction and control of water,” he disclosed.
He said that JICA’s project at the NWC also included the improvement of the capacity of operation maintenance at pilot water treatment plants throughout Jamaica. JICA assisted with the provision of equipment and materials, valued at US$58,923.60, as well as two Suzuki Jimny motor vehicles, valued at US$25,623.70, for the smooth implementation of the project.
In addition, 16 members of the NWC’s staff were trained in Japan under the Counterpart and Group Training Programme.
`Dr. Chang said he would like to personally thank Japan for assisting the NWC with the implementation of water and wastewater systems valued at billions of Jamaican dollars, which have benefited hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans.
This includes the largest project undertaken by the NWC to date, the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) Water Supply Rehabilitation Project, valued at US$85 million, which is funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Government of Jamaica. It is being done in stages and will be completed this year, he assured.
He stated that, at the completion of the project, water will be supplied to communities in greater Spanish Town, such as St. Jago Heights, Green Acres, Frasers Content, Sydenham and March Pen, as well as Portmore, Hellshire, Bernard Lodge and Windsor Heights and sections of Kingston and St. Andrew.
“Last December, I was happy to turn on a section of that project, the Sligoville Road Pipeline. This should have taken 18 months to implement, but was put into service in approximately six months,” the Minister noted.
“So residents of Keystone, Montaque Heights, Gravel Hill, St. Jago Grove, Greendale, Burke’s Road and Twickenham Gardens, who traditionally suffer from inadequate flows, were better supplied with water,” he added.
The Minister said several other water systems across the island have also benefited from the assistance provided by the Japanese government. These include the Great River Water System in St. James, which provides 10 million gallons of water per day for residents of western Jamaica.
According to Dr. Chang, JICA and the Japanese government have undoubtedly contributed to the country’s development process.
“Twenty years ago seems like only yesterday when a team of volunteers from Japan was dispatched to Jamaica to commence work in the areas of education, health and agriculture,” he said.
“This has resulted in the transfer of skills to Jamaicans who play a leading role in the socio economic development of our country,” he commented.
The Minister said, since July, 1989, some 285 volunteers have imparted their skills in education, health, agriculture, information technology and sports.