With the restructuring of Jamaica's sugar industry now moving full speed ahead, there are some social consequences, one of which is the need for resettlement of persons who were living in estate barracks.
With this in mind, the Government has made provisions in the 2012/2013 financial year, for the resettlement of some 876 residents of sugar estates across the country into approximately 400 housing solutions, at seven relocation sites in four parishes. This is estimated to cost approximately $1.4 billion.
Speaking at a contract signing ceremony in Savanna-la-mar, Westmoreland, on September 28, for the construction of 33 housing solutions for sugar workers, at two locations in that parish, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Roger Clarke, noted that as part of the relocation exercise, the new settlements will include all the requisite social services and infrastructure.
"The new settlements to be developed will include schools, shops, markets, post offices, churches, playfields, industrial areas, community centres and police stations, where necessary," he said. He added that the relocation exercise is being supported by the European Union (EU).
The Minister pointed out that rehabilitation and upgrading work will be taking place on two existing sports facilities within Westmoreland soon. The upgrade will be executed on behalf of the Sports Development Foundation at a cost of approximately $23.5 million.
"In terms of social services, the Ministry (of Agriculture and Fisheries) will be making alternative arrangements to replace the Frome clinic, through the upgrading of the Georges Plain clinic. We are also working to ensure the continuation of the Frome Preparatory School," he said.
The Minister informed that within the next four years, the Government will be spending some $3.4 billion on social programmes in sugar producing areas across the country. This, he said, will be in addition to the nearly $900 million that has been disbursed to vulnerable sugar workers and small cane farmers, to cushion the effects of the fallout from the divestment of the Government operated sugar estates.
Head of Operation, European Union (EU) Delegation, Mr. Jesus Orus Baguena, in bringing greetings at the contract signing ceremony, underscores the EU's support for the Government of Jamaica and its social intervention efforts within the sugar sector.
He said that the new settlements for sugar workers, with their supporting social services, will be a vast improvement on what obtained in the barracks.
"The EU's sugar programme is one part of our far larger programme of development co-operation with Jamaica. Other important areas of our support are economic growth, debt reduction and reforms to the security and justice sectors," Mr. Baguena said.