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Chief Executive Officer of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings, Joseph Shoucair, addresses the launch of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan, at Jamaica House.
Photo: Michael Sloley

Story Highlights

  • The Government has presented a major development plan for the Bernard Lodge area of St. Catherine that will result in more affordable housing, expansion of jobs, sustainable agricultural production, upgrading of roads and informal communities, and improved water supply.
  • Dubbed the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan, communities such as Clifton and Dunbeholden will also have infrastructure upgrades and community centres, while the wider area will have a new and central sewerage system.
  • “The Master Plan is designed to move away from that dormitory community that Portmore has become. We will provide opportunities where you can live, and you can work within a short distance,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings, Joseph Shoucair, at the recent launch of the plan, at Jamaica House in St. Andrew.

The Government has presented a major development plan for the Bernard Lodge area of St. Catherine that will result in more affordable housing, expansion of jobs, sustainable agricultural production, upgrading of roads and informal communities, and improved water supply.

Dubbed the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan, communities such as Clifton and Dunbeholden will also have infrastructure upgrades and community centres, while the wider area will have a new and central sewerage system.

“The Master Plan is designed to move away from that dormitory community that Portmore has become. We will provide opportunities where you can live, and you can work within a short distance,” said Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sugar Company of Jamaica (SCJ) Holdings, Joseph Shoucair, at the recent launch of the plan, at Jamaica House in St. Andrew.

Mr. Shoucair is leading an Enterprise Team that has been tasked with implementing the plan.

The development plan, which has benefited from a wide range of stakeholder consultations and Cabinet deliberations and approval, is a comprehensive mix of how lands can be used for agriculture, housing, commercial activities, and community life, to contribute to the future growth of the Kingston Metropolitan Region (KMR). Also included in the plan is the provision of potable water from three wells.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, points out that 56 per cent of the lands will be devoted totally to agriculture, 28 per cent for residential, and the remaining portion for utilities, open spaces and commercial use.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz (third left), in discussion with stakeholders at the launch of the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan, at Jamaica House. Listening (from left) are Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Peter Clarke; Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Audrey Sewell; Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica, Milverton Reynolds; Chief Executive Officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Peter Knight, and President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Lenworth Fulton.

 

He says the Government has put mechanisms in place to ensure that there will be no further changes to land usage for the area. “With the expansion of agricultural lands and agro-investments to come, we will expand food security and production,” Mr. Vaz adds.

The Minister points out that measures will also be in place for environmental protection, safeguards for the underground water systems, drainage improvement, waste management and road rehabilitation in the Greater Portmore area.

“A significant element of the Development Plan is the protection of the aquifer – implementing anti-pollutant strategies to reduce pollution of the aquifer; and ensuring maximum preservation of existing wells and associated infrastructure,” he says.

The Minister adds that to ensure proper environmental protection of the area, a “meticulous waste water management system will be adopted”, to include closed underground garbage silos throughout the development that will be able to store garbage, necessitating less frequent collections, and mitigate against odour pollution.

He also notes that a closed sewerage system will be developed to prevent potential contamination of the aquifer, and that the existing sewerage treatment facilities will be relocated to an area outside the ‘Aquifer Protection Zone’.

He also notes that a closed sewerage system will be developed to prevent potential contamination of the aquifer, and that the existing sewerage treatment facilities will be relocated to an area outside the ‘Aquifer Protection Zone’.

Among the roads to be upgraded are Grange Lane, the Dunbeholden main road and the Bernard Lodge main road.

Works to be undertaken include erection of traffic signals, increasing the number of lanes, adding pedestrian crossings, installation of sidewalks and street lights, and the construction of a four-lane bridge across Highway 2000 East-West. “The development will be transformational for Portmore and sections of St. Catherine, and will be the start of a smart city,” Mr. Vaz says.

For his part, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS), Lenworth Fulton, has given his blessings to the plan, particularly as it relates to protection of agricultural lands, as outlined in the plan, and the environment.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Peter Clarke, says his agency has given support to the plan, with stipulations that water for domestic and commercial use must be boosted, and the aquifer must become a “protected area”.

He says that the regularisation of the informal communities is “welcome, because, as things stand, it is not best for the aquifer”.

National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) CEO, Peter Knight, says the agency went way beyond what was required for an environment impact assessment report, by doing a strategic environmental assessment for the entire area.

For his part, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica, Milverton Reynolds, says the project is seeking to create an “ideal municipality for the Jamaican public, and will present affordable housing and an integrated development, with the aim of creating a sustainable socio-economic environment.”

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