Residents of Hope Village in Manchester are expressing gratitude to the National Road Operating and Constructing Company (NROCC) and its partners for making good on their commitment to replenish a fruit orchard in the community.
The residents came out in their numbers on the International Day of World Biological Diversity on Saturday, May 22, to participate in a tree-planting exercise along with members of the Highway 2000 Family.
President of the Hope Village Citizens Association and Neighbourhood Watch, Verna Manning tells JIS News that the community is happy for the initiative, as it will assist them in sustaining their families.
“As an association, we are extremely grateful because we believe that not only is music the staff of life, but food also, and we are very happy that they were able to partner with us and to take this fruit-tree-planting a step further than the few we had, and so we are very grateful and proud for the partnership,” she says.
Mrs. Manning explains that years ago, some trees had been given to the community by the then Alumina Partners of Canada (ALCAN) Jamaica Mining Company, now the West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO), which was at the time operating the Kirkvine plant in close proximity to the community.
She says that the NROCC partnership will add a more diverse mix of trees to the existing stock.
“We are expecting 400 fruit trees, including ackee, apple, plum, sweet tamarind, guava and a few others,” she adds.
Councillor for the Bellefield Division, Mario Mitchell, who was also on location for the tree-planting exercise, points out that Hope Village, which has approximately 700 houses, was built in the 1950s, and refers to it as the first housing scheme in Jamaica.
He says he is pleased with the open dialogue from the Highway 2000 stakeholders. Mr. Mitchell indicates that regular meetings are held with NROCC and the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) and that the idea for the tree-planting exercise in Hope Village was introduced at one such meeting.
The tree-planting exercise was a joint effort of members of the Highway 2000 family, which includes NROCC, CHEC, Trans Jamaican Highway, Jamaica Infrastructure Operators (JIO) and Stanley Consultants Ltd.
They were joined by the Rotaract Club of the University of the West Indies, Mona, whose members were participating in their second tree-planting exercise with NROCC. The first was a similar exercise where 400 trees were planted along the North South leg of Highway 2000, near the Linstead Toll Plaza in Treadways, St. Catherine.
Meanwhile, Acting Managing Director at NROCC, George Nicholson, says that environmental stewardship is very important to the organisation.
“It is one of the big things internally for us, where we seek to maintain environmental balance, as we try to incorporate the new environmental standard into our overall standards,” Mr. Nicholson explains.
“We are an ISO 9001 company and we’re going to incorporate, this year, ISO 14001 which looks at Environmental Management, so this is part of that exercise to support how NROCC operates as stewards of the environment,” he adds.
The Acting Managing Director points out that as a matter of course, due to the building process, trees are lost during the highway construction.
For his part, Managing Director of Trans Jamaican Highway (TJH), Ivan Anderson, says TJH expects to be the operator for the May Pen to Williamsfield section of the highway, “so NROCC is now doing the construction, which we expect to finish next year, and as soon as that is finished, we expect to be able to take it over and manage the highway itself. So today we have decided to partner with a number of entities in the tree-planting exercise”.
Mr. Anderson points to the Prime Minister’s tree-planting initiative as a major motivating factor for the activity.
“The Prime Minister, as you may recall, gave us a charge to plant one tree for every Jamaican or three million trees over the next three years, so this is us playing our part,” he says.
Mr. Anderson indicates that each member of his team planted about six trees per person, “so we are well on the way”.
In the meantime, Managing Director of JIO, Angelica Wollenweber, explains that it is an annual affair for JIO to partner with TJH and NROCC on a project and that for this exercise, she is pleased with the decision to plant trees.
“Of course, it’s a very good opportunity to be part of that, especially phase 1C [of Highway 2000], which is related to our motorway,” Ms. Wollenweber says.
She points out that JIO does the maintenance for TJH on the T1 and T2 motorways and that this includes greenery and toll collection.
President Elect for UWI Mona Rotaract Club (2021-2022), Joshua Anderson, explains that environmental advocacy is a major focus area for Rotary International and by extension for the UWI Mona Rotaract Club, “so for us, participating in an event like this is just natural”.
“With new developments, we have to have replenishment of the environment, because building roads and highways takes its toll on the environment and we cannot focus just on the economy and not on sustainability, so it is imperative that we educate others and participate in these activities as citizens of Jamaica,” she says.
Environmental Manager, NROCC, Errol Mortley, tells JIS News that the Melrose Hill Bypass encroaches on an existing fruit orchard in the vicinity of Hope Village and that the aim of the exercise is to replenish that fruit orchard.