The third phase in the development of the Lilliput community in St. James is expected to get underway soon, following the signing of a $190 million contract for the completion of rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure works in the community.
The contract, which has been awarded to D.R. Foote Construction Limited, was signed Tuesday (Jan. 11) by Minister of Water and Housing, Hon Dr. Horace Chang, and Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, at the New Kingston offices of the Water Ministry.
The upgrading of Lilliput, which is a large informal settlement along the Rosehall main road, falls under the Tourism Enhancement Fund's (TEF) Rehabilitation of Resort Areas Squatter Settlement Programme. The other communities involved are Flanker and Norwood in St. James and Shaw Park Heights in St. Ann.
According to a brief from the Ministry, the Government has made available $1 billion for the rehabilitation of infrastructure in a number of squatter settlements along the north coast, the main tourist area. The programme will also help to address the problem of crime and violence by providing access to the police and civic groups, and improving the general welfare of residents.
The Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ), an agency of the Ministry of Water and Housing, was given responsibility for upgrading the physical infrastructure of the communities.
Roads and drainage works have been completed under phases one and two of the Lilliput project, to benefit 350 households. Water and electricity have been made available. Phase three, which covers the remainder of the community, includes work done in the first two phases, in addition to the rehabilitation and construction of roads and storm water drains.
Minister Chang said that although Lilliput is one of the largest informal settlements in Montego Bay, it is not the "classical informal settlement".
He pointed out that the infrastructure upgrade in Lilliput, and other informal settlements, reflects government’s commitment to deal with problems of affordable housing.
"The major part of what we are doing is to upgrade where we can upgrade, because we have nearly a million people living in informal settlements," he said, noting the "remarkable transformation" of not only the physical infrastructure, but of the attitude of the individuals in these communities.
He pointed out that the Ministry continues to aggressively deal with the housing shortage, by finding creative approaches to housing low income earners.
Mr. Barlett, who is also Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, said that the work to be undertaken will take Lilliput from being an informal settlement to "a high class area".
He thanked Dr. Chang for his thrust to develop informal communities like Lilliput.
The upgrading work is to be undertaken over nine months and, on completion, approximately $234 million of TEF funds would have been spent on the development of the community overtime.