JIS News

The Sugar Workers Housing programme moved a step further towards achieving its objective of providing housing solutions for over 3000 workers in the sugar industry, when over 400 letters of possession for service lots were presented to workers at Bernard Lodge in St. Catherine on Thursday (Nov. 16). In delivering the keynote address at the handing over ceremony, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that at long last, the workers had land on which to build their homes and raise their children.
She said the housing programme which was arrived at during the 2000 wage negotiations, was a fine example of what can be achieved when committed parties are united around a common purpose. She said dealing with the problem of housing would help to advance the cause of workers who are seeking to improve their quality of life and that in this regard, the government remained determined to keep land ownership on the ‘most urgent list’ of things to be accomplished.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said the sugar workers housing programme is designed to have a positive impact on the lives of workers in the industry. She said it would also improve the quality of life in rural communities. She urged beneficiaries to keep up-to-date with their mortgage payments and said that they should take pride in their community and let the value of their properties appreciate.
The Prime Minister also had high praises for the National Housing Trust, commending the organization for its openness and willingness to consider revolutionary ideas that would accelerate the pace at which housing solutions are made available to workers. To date, the NHT has spent an estimated $1.7 Billion on the sugar workers housing programme. Lots valued at $600,000 are heavily subsidized and sold to workers at a price of $395,500.
The Sugar Workers Housing Programme was conceptualized under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between trade unions representing workers in the sugar industry, the sugar estates and the National Housing Trust in 2000. Under the programme nine sugar estates agreed to make lands available for housing for workers while the NHT was responsible for the necessary infrastructure works including, road, water and sewerage.
Since the inception of the programme, 1,490 lots have been developed and sold to workers in St. Thomas, Westmoreland, St. Elizabeth and Clarendon. The letters of possession handed over at Bernard Lodge on Thursday brings to 1892, the total number of service lots that have been developed on the estate. Service lots will also be made available to workers at Stokes Hall, Hampden, Long Pond, Monymusk, New Yarmouth, Appleton and Frome.