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Story Highlights

  • The 47 residents of the Hanover Infirmary are now living in more comfortable and modern surroundings, following the official opening of a new $40 million building.
  • The Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine received a well-needed facelift at a cost of $1.5 million.
  • The KSAC also boosted its property tax collection by 169 per cent since April 1 this year, when compared to the figure for the corresponding period last year.

The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, under the leadership of portfolio Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, expended millions of dollars on the construction and upgrading of infirmaries, markets, fire stations, among other facilities to improve the quality of service to ordinary Jamaicans.

Infirmaries

The 47 residents of the Hanover Infirmary are now living in more comfortable and modern surroundings, following the official opening of a new $40 million building.

Located on the compound of the old facility, on Watson Taylor Drive, Lucea, the infirmary boasts separate male and female dorms with general bathroom facility, private rooms with their own bathrooms, general lobby area, doctors examination room, matron’s office, general staff room, Poor Relief Office, entry foyer, verandas, and  recreational space.

The St. Ann Infirmary, located in Priory, also benefited from upgrading and refurbishing work, which included: painting of the walls and bathroom facilities, replacing tiles and bushing of the compound.

Also, the St. Mary Infirmary received a major facelift, including painting of the interior and exterior sections of the buildings, tiling, planting of several crops, erection of a fence, installation of a solar system, and general landscaping of the premises.

Additionally, five solar water heaters, three 1,000-gallon water tanks and 15 solar panels valued at some $2.4 million were installed at the facility located in the parish capital, Port Maria.

Throughout the year, several markets were renovated and re-opened across the island. In the Corporate Area, these include: the Redemption Arcade and Jubilee Market in downtown Kingston.

Also, a fish market in Lucea, Hanover, which was refurbished at a cost of approximately $1 million, was officially reopened. The facility is attached to the Lucea Market and is able to accommodate some 15 fish vendors. It features tiled flooring, modern counters, wash stands with sinks, fans and proper ventilation.

The Charles Gordon Market in St. James was also refurbished at a cost of approximately $4.3 million and including refurbishing of vendors stalls, repair and painting of walls, patching and painting of the car park, rebuilding of planter boxes, and general cleaning.

Fire Stations

Some $4.7 million was spent to carry out upgrading works on the Freeport Fire Station in St. James. This included the construction of a female dorm, bathroom facilities, a kitchenette, locker room, and a watch commander’s office.

Also, a contract valued at US$1.35 million was awarded for the procurement of three new fire trucks.

The Portmore Fire Station in Waterford, St. Catherine received a well-needed facelift at a cost of $1.5 million. Works included painting, tiling, basic landscaping, tree planting, removal and replacement of some windows, doors and lighting and plumbing fixtures, and provision of comfort items.

To further strengthen its search and rescue operations in six parishes, the Jamaica Fire Brigade received water and structural rescue kit equipment valued at some $1 million from the United States Southern Command.

The brigade also got rescue tools valued at approximately US$35,000, which are used to assist with the extrication of casualties during an accident.

LED Streetlights

As part of efforts to ensure greater energy efficiency and reduce costs, the Ministry in January launched a LED streetlight project.

Over the six-month pilot, some 5,000 LED lights are being installed in Clarendon as well as sections of St. Catherine and Kingston and St. Andrew. Additionally, the Ministry’s headquarters at Hagley Park Road in Kingston was retrofitted with energy saving solutions.

Parish Councils

Throughout the year, the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) made strides in improving accountability and management practices, with the establishment of an audit committee. The body has oversight of the financial reporting process to ensure accuracy and transparency.

Other notable achievements include: continuation of drive to rid the Corporate Area of illegal billboards and signs that have been erected without the Corporation’s approval; registration of vendors and handcart operators; utilisation of the designated vending areas; the acquisition of some 40 portable tablet computers, valued just over $400,000, for technical officers; and the launch of the KSAC’s LoveCleanKSA interactive mobile technology application.

The KSAC also boosted its property tax collection by 169 per cent since April 1 this year, when compared to the figure for the corresponding period last year.

In the meantime, the Westmoreland Parish Council established a Safety and Security Committee, with the primary objective of facilitating partnerships, collaborations and consultations to improve the safety and security of the citizens of the parish. The Council, during the dry months, also trucked water to several areas that have been affected by severe drought.

The St. Elizabeth Parish Council also received an additional $3 million to assist in the distribution of water to drought stricken areas in the parish.

Also, in a drive to build safer communities and enhance public order across the parish, the St. Catherine Parish Council launched the Parish Safety and Security Committee.

The Committee spearheaded a campaign to increase the citizens’ participation in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of actions to improve their safety and security.

Advancing the Reform Process

The Ministry made strides in advancing the local government reform process, announcing in November, that Cabinet had approved the issuing of drafting instructions for the three strategic laws in the local government reform process

These are the Local Government Act, the Local Government and Financial Management Act, and the Local Government Unified Services and Employment Act.

Building Code and Disaster Bill

A new Building Act was approved by Cabinet in March, and policy makers are looking forward to its implementation by the end of this financial year.

The new legislation, coupled with others, will seek to improve the efficiency of the building approvals process, and provide a framework for the effective management of the building industry.

Minister Arscott also disclosed that the drafting of the proposed Disaster Risk Management Bill is far advanced. The legislation seeks to strengthen the country’s overall national disaster preparedness, emergency management and response processes and mechanisms, through a range of measures.

Early in the year, the Ministry signed on to a global campaign called ‘Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready’ in Kingston. Through this campaign, local government officials will be introduced to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), and a ten-point checklist for making cities resilient.

To support that, a contract was signed for the implementation of a landslide mitigation project in the communities of Harbour Heights, Melbrook Heights and Bedward Gardens in St Andrew, and Breastworks in Portland. The project involves the construction of mosaic architecture to reinforce hillsides, the construction of drains, and rain water harvesting.

NSWMA

In December, the agency announced that it will be spending some $45 million over the festive season to clean-up, clear, transport and dispose of solid waste, generation of which is expected to increase significantly during the period.

Some $25 million will be expended on public cleansing activities, while another $20 million will go toward the removal of bulk waste and the clearance of illegal and roadside dumps.

The NSWMA also implemented phase two of its Plastic Separation Pilot Project. Under phase one, which commenced in Manchester in February, 100 households in Greenvale, Ingleside, and Hope Village were targeted and residents encouraged to separate plastic containers from their regular domestic waste, to facilitate seamless collection and disposal.

The NSWMA also collaborated with parish councils in its public education effort to encourage persons to dispose of their garbage appropriately.

ODPEM

At the start of the year, ODPEM donated US$30,000 to the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Earthquake Unit to install four motion seismographs across the Kingston Metropolitan Area. They will be positioned on buildings to help monitor the response of those and other structures during major earthquakes.

The agency, in October, tested a pilot early warning system to alert disabled persons of impending disaster. The system, which was tested in communities in Portmore, St. Catherine, facilitates real-time warning and response to disasters such as hurricanes and flooding for the disabled.

Other Works

Just under $140 million was allocated by the Government for drain cleaning this year in preparation for the Atlantic hurricane season and to guard against flooding.

Also, the Montego Bay Civic Centre in the historic Sam Sharpe Square was fenced at a cost of $17 million.

Some 500 farmers in and around the Accompong area of St. Elizabeth benefitted from a greenhouse project,  set up through a US$50,000 grant by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), which was facilitated by the Social Development Commission.