JIS News

As the Government continues its thrust to provide housing solutions, particularly to segments of the society, which may not have had the opportunity previously, almost 1,900 residential lots have so far been delivered under the Sugar Workers’ Housing Programme, which was established some six years ago.
The $6 billion programme has resulted in lots delivered in Bellrock (19); New Yarmouth (79); Monymusk (587); Frome (665); Appleton (140); and Bernard Lodge (402). Senior General Manager of Construction and Development at the National Housing Trust (NHT), Donald Moore tells JIS News that so far, some $934 million has been expended in the roll-out of the programme and that the remaining solutions are to be delivered by November 2007.
The programme, which resulted from the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding among the Government, three trade unions representing the workers in the sugar industry (the University and Allied Workers Union; the National Workers Union, and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union) and the management of nine sugar estates, will deliver a total of 2,754 solutions in 10 projects.
The mass construction of one-bedroom units on the estates began in August 2006, with the workers having the option of building on their own land. The first units will be delivered by April of next year in Monymusk, New Yarmouth, and Appleton, Mr. Moore discloses.
“Workers will be able to access loans for the construction of units on their house lot, through the NHT’s Build-On-Own-Land (BOL) loan facility.
Cabinet has also approved a subsidy of $2.33 billion to facilitate the affordability of the housing solutions on all 10 projects,” the General Manager informs.
The NHT has been given responsibility for project management, construction financing and provision of mortgage funding at concessionary rates, while the estates are responsible for providing suitable land, and where possible, provide material and equipment for the project. The trade unions have undertaken to co-ordinate an education aspect of the programme among the sugar workers, to sensitize them about the project, and to emphasise the importance of paying their mortgages when they receive their benefit.
Outlining the specific features of the programme, Mr. Moore tells JIS News that they include, the provision of serviced lots; the construction of standard one bedroom units (specifically designed for the programme by the NHT); the distribution of information to the sugar workers by the stakeholders (Unions, Estate Management, and NHT); the donation of unencumbered and suitable lands by the Estates; and the subsidizing of the selling prices by the NHT.
In her inaugural budget presentation as Prime Minister in May of this year, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller said that under the programme, sugar workers would benefit from an additional 862 serviced lots, located at Worthy Park in St. Catherine, Stokes Hall in St. Thomas, Long Pond and Hampden in Trelawny.
“This (programme) not only impacts the lives of the sugar workers, it improves the quality of life of the rural communities, which is an integral part of our rural development,” she emphasized.