JIS News

Only $14.46 million has been spent to date on renovating the Minister of Transport and Work’s Millsborough Crescent residence, in Kingston, and not the $65 million which has been rumoured.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Alwyn Hales, made the clarification at a press conference at the Ministry in Kingston on Wednesday (September 2), when he sought to dispel what he described as “misinformation and half truths” being disseminated on the matter.
He said that of the sum, $12.32 million was spent on work relating to the revamping of the piping system; roof repairs; general refurbishing; purchasing of a stove and refrigerator; painting; and bushing and clearing of the property. An additional $2.14 million was spent on the reconstruction of a gabion retaining gully wall, which had been destroyed by Hurricane Gustav.
The purchase price of the house is $35 million, and is subject to approval by Cabinet. Added to the sum already expended, the deal when closed will see a total of $49.46 having been spent. Valuations of the residence done in 2007 by the National Land Agency (NLA) and Allison Pitter and Company, prices it at $60 million and $65 million, respectively.
Dr. Hales emphasised that the rehabilitation was necessary to ensure the safety of the structure, and modernise the almost 50-year-old building.
“To maintain the value of the property, it became increasingly necessary to carry out refurbishing. When (former) Minister (Robert) Pickersgill vacated the property in September 2007, after 9 years of occupancy, this provided an opportunity for the necessary renovation, as extensive repairs were difficult to undertake while the house was occupied,” the Permanent Secretary outlined.
Minor repairs were last done on the premises in 2001, and only included painting and replacement of some wooden roofing.
“This was woefully inadequate, based on the age of the residence and the intervening years when no maintenance had been carried out,” the Permanent Secretary pointed out.
After no agreement was reached with the Commissioner of Lands on the Ministry’s proposal to change management arrangements for the property, an arrangement was made for the property to be purchased and maintained by the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ).
It was agreed that the PAJ would undertake the necessary repairs, with the understanding that the purchase price would be adjusted accordingly, Dr. Hales said.
The Permanent Secretary also noted that it was necessary for Mr. Henry to occupy the residence, as his own private home was situated outside of Kingston.
“The home provided to him is where, in addition to residing, he has to host meetings, receptions and official functions involving the Ministry’s stakeholders,” Dr. Hales explained.
The property at 5 Millsbourough Crescent is among the assets of the now defunct Jamaica Omnibus Service (JOS) Limited. Cabinet gave approval in 2000 for it to be transferred to the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC), but this was not done.
Dr. Hales said that the Ministry is now actively engaged in winding up the JOS, to facilitate the transfer of the property to the Port Authority.

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