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Ground was broken for some 288 serviced lots under the Sugar Workers Housing Programme, in Bounty Hall, Trelawny, by Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, on February 5.
Some 150 serviced lots are to be provided for workers on the Hampden Estate, in the parish, while the remainder will be sold on the open market.
The project forms part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by nine Sugar Estates, three Trade Unions, the Sugar Producers Federation and the National Housing Trust (NHT), some years ago.
Approximately $250 million will be spent on the development of the project, which involves putting in the necessary infrastructure, such as: paved roads, storm water drains, sewage collection and a centralised sewage treatment facility, potable water distribution network, centralised water storage, electrical distribution system and streetlights, street names and traffic signs.
In his address, the Minister said that it is the intention of the government to accelerate the implementation of the entire Sugar Workers Housing Programme this year, as part of plans to provide housing solutions for working Jamaicans over the next three to five years. This, he said, would also help to come to grips with the phenomenon of informal settlements.
“This attempt by the Sugar Workers Housing Programme to bring affordable housing to the workers is very commendable,” he said.
The Minister argued that the provision of low income houses is quite difficult in the current economic situation, adding that the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) and the NHT have been working closely to overcome that difficulty.
He said the Government intends to assist Jamaicans, as much as possible, in fulfilling their ambition to own a home. He noted that between the HAJ and the NHT, there are plans to provide some 20,000 housing solutions over the next two years.
Chairman of the NHT, Mr. Howard Mitchell, cited other development projects now taking place in Trelawny, noting that simultaneously, serious attention needs to be paid to the matter of housing in the parish.
He expressed the view that the developments now taking place in the parish can, and will attract persons from outside the parish with financial resources, who can easily displace the residents of the parish with regards to housing availability. He pledged the full support and commitment of the NHT to any initiative to provide affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for North Trelawny, Dr. Patrick Harris, said the serviced lots would help to transform the lives of all the beneficiaries, leading to wealth creation, which will ultimately benefit the community and the nation at large.