KINGSTON — The town of Ocho Rios in St. Ann is to benefit from major infrastructural development, costing some $1.8 billion, which is expected to see the establishment of new and exciting tourism products, over a five year period.
According to Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, this development is part of plans by the Ministry to ensure that the tourism product is greatly enhanced and that Jamaica maintains its image as having more attractions than all of the Caribbean combined.
The Minister, accompanied by Minister of State with responsibility for Local Government, Hon. Shahine Robinson and other government officials, toured sections of the town of Ocho Rios, on August 25, including the Reynolds Pier, Ocho Rios Pier, as well as the proposed site of the New Craft Market and Artisan Village.
"We have taken a serious look at some of the critical areas of decay in the Ocho Rios area. We have focused primarily on the areas of sanitation and what contributes to what I call 'the uglyfication' of the town of Ocho Rios. We have also looked at some new developments for the town, one of which is the Artisan Village, a new concept in not only merchandising the creative products of our people, but also creating a setting for the creation of (unique, authentic, one-of-a-kind) products," the Minister said.
"The artisan village (to cost $1 billion) will be an important addition to the infrastructure of Ocho Rios. We will be spending some $80 million in improving the general look and condition of the Ocho Rios town itself over the next eight months. I have allocated $1 million just for the maintenance of the drains on a weekly basis," Mr. Bartlett added.
He emphasised that it was not the responsibility of government to maintain Ocho Rios in a clean and pristine condition, but that of the people. He called on the wider business community to take up that challenge.
"The people in the town have to buy into it and take that responsibility. We can come in and put up the $80 million to fix up the sidewalks and to clean drains and to bush the area and generally give it an appearance of beauty, but it cannot be sustained unless the community buys into it and stop throwing the garbage all over the place,” the Minister said.
Mr. Bartlet said that the Anti Litter Act must be enforced, to prevent persons from disposing of their garbage inappropriately.
Supporting the Minister on his call for persons to keep the town clean, Mrs. Robinson described the planned development as "good news."
"The Councillor for the Ocho Rios Division, Neville Williams, and myself are heartened and encouraged by this tour, and the announcement by the Minister that funds will be allocated for cleaning and maintaining the main drain in Ocho Rios," she said.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Reporter