JIS News

Four of eight buildings currently being rehabilitated at Montpelier in St. James to house Haitian refugees now being accommodated in the eastern end of the island should be completed within a few days. Major rehabilitation work had to be carried out on the buildings including repair of roofing; installation of windows, doors and plumbing fixtures; upgrading electrical works and putting perimeter fencing in place.
According to Joseph Shako, who has been seconded from the Ministry of Land and Environment to assist the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to co-ordinate the renovation project, the buildings should be ready by weekend.
“Right now we are trying to complete four buildings before we move the Haitian nationals here. One building will be used as bathroom facilities, another building will be used as kitchen and dining room and an entertainment area, and the other two buildings, a female dormitory and a male dormitory.
We had rain yesterday for about four hours (and) assuming that we don’t have any additional hold up, everything will be ready by the end of this week, and we are anticipating somewhere in the region of 130 to 140 Haitian nationals,” he said.
Outlining that the preliminary estimate for the preparation of the facilities was $36 million, Mr. Shako pointed out that the sum included money to be made available to the Ministry of Health as well as for the engineering works. He said that several companies have been volunteering their services, material and labour towards the project.
Mr. Shako said that Food for the Poor is also constructing two additional buildings on the site that should also be ready by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, ODPEM parish co-ordinator in St. James, Olga Fae Headly, is upbeat about the support the Haitians will receive from the local community when they arrive in Montpelier.
“There are several organisations that have expressed their desire to come on board; we have the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the chamber of commerce, the service clubs that have all expressed their desire to come on board and assist,” she said.
Staff Sergeant Collin White from the Engineering Regiment of the Jamaica Defence Force, told JIS News that approximately 20 personnel from that group was working on the Montpelier site. He said that their main tasks were to supervise all the other institutions that are working on the site, also to provide the necessary security.
He emphasised that the men under his command were all approaching their tasks with much enthusiasm.

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