KINGSTON — The Government has strengthened its commitment to improving the social conditions of inner-city communities in Kingston on August 18 signing a financing agreement for Phase II of the PetroCaribe Sanitation project.
To be undertaken at a cost of just over $109 million, the project will involve the installation of bathroom and laundry facilities in five communities downtown.
The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is the implementing agency for the initiative, which falls under the Community Renewal Programme of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), aimed at guiding the design and implementation of violence reduction and community development projects in 100 of the most vulnerable and volatile areas across the island.
JSIF's Managing Director, Scarlette Gillings, in her remarks at the signing ceremony held at the Denham Town Community Centre, downtown Kingston, noted that the undertaking is in keeping with the redevelopment plan for the city.
"Phase II will involve the design and construction of at least 75 units. The scope of work includes installation of toilets, face basins, laundry basins, electrical fixtures and fittings and the connection of households to existing sewer system," she informed.
The five beneficiary communities are Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Fletcher's Land, Hannah Town and Kingston Central.
Mrs. Gillings said community members will be responsible for the procurement of goods and services and the construction of the units within their own neighbourhood. At the end of the implementation process, community members will receive training in hygiene and maintenance for the new facilities.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, in his remarks at the signing, said that there is need to provide more sanitary conveniences downtown Kingston, noting that most of the original amenities no longer exist or are serving too many people.
He thanked JSIF and the PetroCaribe Fund for undertaking the initiative geared at improving the lives of inner-city residents.
Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Gladstone Hutchinson, stated that providing sanitation facilities is a priority of the Community Renewal Programme. He said research has shown that the availability of such amenities has a positive social impact on youth behaviour and is central to human dignity.
Manager of the PetroCaribe Development Fund, Sharon Weber, for her part, informed that the sanitation project will target households with children and the elderly.
She noted that this engagement is by no means the first intervention by the Fund, "which sees to address poor and vulnerable groups in order to transform their lives and position individuals to be productive citizens."
The PetroCaribe Development Fund was created to manage the proceeds from the PetroCaribe agreement between the Governments of Jamaica and Venezuela.
The fund receives loan proceeds, which accrue to Jamaica, provides loan financing for approved projects, receives loan repayments from borrowers and meets the debt servicing obligations to Venezuela when they are due.
By LATONYA LINTON, JIS Reporter