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  • Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has announced plans for the renovation of the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston.
  • Mr. McKenzie advised that a special committee chaired by Town Clerk of the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Council (KSAC), which owns and operates the property, Robert Hill, has been established to spearhead development of the plans, inclusive of the cost.
  • In noting that the May Pen Cemetery existence dates back to the 16th century, Mr. McKenzie said the facility is one of the oldest and largest in the Caribbean.

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, has announced plans for the renovation of the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston.

This, he says, in order to encourage and facilitate increased use of the over 200-acre property, of which 130 acres have been utilized for burials.

The cemetery is located between the Horizon Adult Remand Centre on Spanish Town Road and Tivoli Gardens High School on Industrial Terrace, in West Kingston.

He made this disclosure while speaking with journalists following a tour of the cemetery on Thursday, March 24.

Among the activities to be undertaken, Mr. McKenzie said, are: restoration of graves which have been vandalized, which will be carried out in collaboration with the Public Health Department; repairs to the perimeter fence and access roads; and general landscaping.

“The intention is to give the May Pen Cemetery a different look. It is an eyesore when you pass it (along) Spanish Town Road….and I think the time has come, now, that some more attention be given to (improving those) conditions,” the Minister said.

Mr. McKenzie advised that a special committee chaired by Town Clerk of the Kingston and St. Andrew Parish Council (KSAC), which owns and operates the property, Robert Hill, has been established to spearhead development of the plans, inclusive of the cost.

He said, consequent on the committee’s assessment and submission of its report, the Ministry will seek to secure local and international funding.

Among the options, Mr. McKenzie informed, are revisiting discussions initially held with Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, during his previous tenure between 2007 and 2011.

“I approached him when I was Mayor (of Kingston), and there was a commitment to provide some funding for the fencing and some beautification. Whatever assistance that is possible that we can get, we are going to be working assiduously to get that to ensure that, at least, we can offer an affordable alternative to those persons who can’t afford the cost associated with other cemeteries to put away their loved ones in decent surroundings,” Mr. McKenzie stated.

Additionally, Mr. McKenzie advised that the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which is assisting with the construction of the access road to the Riverton City landfill in Kingston, has indicated that they will give consideration to providing support the project which “is going to take a good amount of funding.”

In noting that the May Pen Cemetery existence dates back to the 16th century, Mr. McKenzie said the facility is one of the oldest and largest in the Caribbean.

Mr. McKenzie also noted that the cemetery is the final resting place for some of Jamaica’s notable “movers and shakers”, including politicians and sportsmen.

“It is a place of historical value…that could also become a part of the cultural tourism offerings…that would be beneficial to the country. So it is a significant and important landmark, not just for Kingston and St. Andrew, but…Jamaica,” Mr. McKenzie added.