Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies, on February 21, announced a slew of projects, totalling $1.18 billion, which are to be rolled out under the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP).
Tabling a Ministry Paper in the House of Representatives outlining the initiatives, Dr. Davies noted that the first phase of JEEP is to be rolled out during the last month of the fiscal year (March), while details for JEEP programmes for 2012/2013 would be presented during the Budget Debate.
The first phase projects, the Minister said, will result in the employment of over 5,000 persons, and span five Ministries. In the Ministry of Education, 815 persons will benefit from a two-week orientation programme next month, facilitated by the National Youth Service (NYS).
They will be placed in schools as accounting clerks, lab technicians and teachers’ aides. Additionally, under the HEART Trust/NTA, 100 persons will be recruited as part of an apprenticeship programme, resulting in certification.
The Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing will conduct a labour intensive programme, primarily involving road support infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance, utilising the skills of the pool of experience and trained construction workers who are currently unemployed. The projects include the cleaning of gullies and drains, at a cost of $197.8 million, and employing 200 persons.
The bushing of ‘A’ and ‘B’ main roads will also be carried out. These are high traffic volume corridors not included in the existing programmes, and not in urban centres or built up areas. The project, which will cost $157.38 million and will employ 350 persons, will be implemented in collaboration with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA). The NSWMA will assist the National Works Agency (NWA) in recruiting and training residents in the work zone with the relevant skills to undertake the works.
“This will allow for the development of a pool of community based skills to undertake this kind of work,” Dr. Davies explained.
A third project, which will employ 120 persons at a cost of $129 million, is the repairing of repairs. “Sidewalks in busy commercial centres in poor condition will be selected for repairs by highly trained and experienced masons, who have undertaken masonry work for many years, working alongside new persons as apprentices to learn the work,” the Minister said.
Meanwhile, some 200 more persons are to be employed to install 2,000 traffic signals in high volume corridors in areas where traffic safety is affected. “Persons employed in this activity will work on short term contracts. These persons will receive some training in this activity, which will provide them with the requisite knowledge to perform this task, which is critical to road safety activity. Local materials will be utilised where it is practical to do so,” Dr. Davies informed. This project will cost $10.32 million.
There will also be a kerb painting project, which will see 100 kilometres of kerb walls in poorly lit areas painted. This project will employ 300 persons at a cost of $21.5 million.
An $86 million pot hole patching programme will also be executed, employing 120 persons. This will involve 28,000 square metres primarily on arterial and heavily trafficked urban roads.
Dr. Davies also announced a river training project, which will mitigate against scouring and risk to lives and property. This project will include the building of retaining structure, and the de-silting of river channels. This will involve 2,800 feet of embankment at prioritised locations, employing 400 persons at a cost of $172 million. “A contingency amount of $86 million has also been included to fund any unplanned works or expenditures which may arise during the implementation of the various projects,” he noted.
Under the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, clean-up projects will be implemented to beautify resort areas. This will employ 100 persons at a cost of $150 million.
In the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, of the 1,500 trained persons in the Steps to Work and Special Employment Training programmes,750 are to be employed at a cost of $40.5 million.
Meanwhile, a honey production and income generation project is to be established in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to increase the number of bee farmers and local honey production by 202 tonnes (36,000 gallons). Dr. Davies said this project is designed to select and train bee farmers in strategic communities in various constituencies islandwide. Initially, some 300 bee farmers will be provided with five boxes each as a start-up operation over the first year. Some $4.9 million will be expended on this project.
The Government will also bring forward three projects which were in the planning phase when the new administration took office. These include a $52 million banana/plantain resuscitation project, which will employ 700 persons; a turmeric industry development project, which will employ 233 persons at a cost of $40.4 million; and a ginger production expansion project, which will employ 350 persons at a cost of $60 million.
Additionally, there is a ginger nursery project, which will be implemented in 2012/2013, employing 28 persons at a cost of $13.3 million.
Dr. Davies explained that these JEEP initiatives will be financed through a re-scoped Jamaica Development Infrastructure Programme (JDIP) ($731 million); a PetroCaribe Grant ($234.3 million); the Ministry of Education (HEART Trust) $21 million; Ministry of Labour and Social Security (savings) $40.5 million; and the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment ($150 million).
“Full details on the JEEP for fiscal year 2012/2013 will be provided, but the major component will be projects executed through the National Works Agency. Guaranteed funding of $3.4 billion for this aspect of the programme will come from the re-scoping of the JDIP project,” the Minister informed.
Dr. Davies pointed out that all Ministries and Departments which are participating in the immediate phase of the programme, will contribute to the expanding programmes.
He also noted that a major initiative by the National Housing Trust (NHT) is to be incorporated, committing funds to finance construction of housing units islandwide for middle and lower income persons, using small contractors.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter