JIS News

Private donors have committed over $900 million to the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR) for the post hurricane relief and reconstruction efforts.
ONR’s Chief Executive Officer, Danville Walker, who made the announcement at a press conference held at the Ministry of Land and Environment on Half-Way-Tree Road on September 29, said that effort was being made “to convert the commitments into cash”.
He said the government was committed to offering assistance to persons most affected by the hurricane and effort was being made to complete the assessment process to yield information as to the quantum of assistance that could be given. The assessment process is being led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in collaboration with a number of relief agencies and should be completed before December.
Mr. Walker identified agriculture, education and relocation of residents in the hard hit areas as some of the early priorities of the fund. In the meantime, he said, focus was being placed on repairs to schools and clearing shelters still being occupied. Some 1,000 persons are still being housed in shelters across the island.
Meanwhile, Land and Environment Minister Dean Peart, informed that some 50,944 housing assessments have been completed island wide and the Labour Ministry had expended over $18 million on relief activities, with some 70,000 families benefiting.
He said that plans were being made for the reconstruction of dwellings in the Brighton community in Western Westmoreland, which was one of the hard hit areas. Persons residing in high-risk sections of the community would be relocated and the Commissioner of Lands was trying to identify the necessary lands for this purpose, the Minister said further. “As soon as this is done, we intend to fast track the process to have the lands approved,” he said, noting that a contingent from Venezuela was in the island to assist with the reconstruction.
Mr. Peart also informed, that a team had been instructed to investigate the most urgent needs in Southern St. Elizabeth, Old Harbour and Rocky Point, which were also severely affected by the hurricane.Turning to assistance to the agriculture sector, the Minister said the printing of vouchers for affected farmers should begin early next week and farmers would get them soon after. The farmers will be able to use the vouchers to acquire fertilizer, seeds and chemicals from approved farm stores.
Mr. Peart said that every effort was being made to ensure a speedy return to normalcy for Jamaicans. He noted that although much assistance was being extended to affected persons, a lot more needed to be done. “We will continue to give special attention to these persons through vigilant and consistent public information and careful regulation and monitoring of the response efforts. No one will be left out,” he assured.
The Minister further emphasized that the relief agencies assisting persons were part of a relief network, which drew from a resource pool in which the government had much input.

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