Prior to the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP), life was almost at a standstill for St. Catherine resident, Albert Roache.
However, with the JEEP's launch in March 2012, Mr. Roache was successful in acquiring temporary employment during the weeks leading up to the highpoint of the Jamaica 50th celebrations in early August.
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Under the initiative, he along with four other residents of Portmore formed part of the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) Limited's decor team that assisted in beautifying parish capitals and towns for the Jubliee festivities from August 1 to August 6.
"The employment was really helpful because dem time deh, mi neva did have anyting doing…At that time, things did deh pon the go slow, and it did kinda help us out…all in all, it was a good ting," Mr. Roache tells JIS News.
He informs that they were responsible for decorating the numerous light posts with banners and flags from Portmore Mall to the Municipal Boulevard (Highway 95) and Greater Portmore, among other areas.
Mr. Roache commends the Government for implementing the initiative, adding that even though it only provided temporary employment, it allowed him and many others to be gainfully employed for a while and to be able to "buy some things".
Another beneficiary of the programme, Annette Rose Martin, who hails from the parish of St. Mary, says her job was more than just decorating, as oftentimes she had to encourage persons not to take down the decorations.
She says the JEEP is a great initiative as it seeks to engage unemployed youth in gainful employment, adding that irrespective of the project to which you are employed, you have to give it your all, to ensure the success of the programme.
Ms. Martin informs that each individual who is selected to be a part of a team has to be productive to ensure the success of the project, as if this is not done, then the project will fail.
Providing further details about the initiative, Senior Manager, Public Relations and Community Development, HAJ Limited, Richard Jones, says numerous persons from 11 parish capitals and Portmore formed part of the agency's Jamaica 50 decor programme.
"We were able to mobilise teams of persons, primarily from our Operation Pride Schemes in various parts of the island… and we were able to get these persons in teams of five. They were responsible for installing the decorations in the parish capitals," he tells JIS News.
He adds that the decorations helped to heighten patriotism among Jamaicans who ventured to the parish capitals.
Mr. Jones notes that even though it was "a specific programme over a short period of time… we were quite satisfied that we were able to respond and give the necessary contribution to get those decorations up for the week of August 1 to 6. Additionally, persons were able to get short term employment and it was much appreciated, so I think it was quite successful," he says.
The Senior Manager informs that the feedback from the workers was generally positive. "It went relatively smoothly and the job was completed within the specified time and persons were paid," he adds.
He says the agency was approached in July to be one of the major sponsors of the Jamaica 50 Décor Programme, one of the areas which make up the projects under the JEEP.
During phase one of JEEP, which ended recently, approximately 15,000 persons were employed within several Ministries and Agencies, undertaking tasks in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture, education and intensive labour.
For Phase Two, a sum of $6 billion has been earmarked to be spent on projects in the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Labour and Social Security; and Housing; HEART Trust/NTA and the National Housing Trust (NHT).
It is projected that some 35,000 persons will be employed during this phase of the programme.
Speaking at the launch of the programme (in March), Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller described it as one of the most carefully constructed initiatives undertaken by any administration.
"It was fully discussed and approved at Cabinet. A Ministry Paper was tabled in Parliament, followed by extensive questioning on all aspects of the programme. I can assure the Jamaican people that accountability, transparency and efficiency will be the hallmarks in the management of this programme," she said.
The JEEP is one of the strategies of the Government to respond to the chronic unemployment status of some Jamaicans, particularly those in the lower socio-economic strata, persons with special needs as well as those with low skill levels.