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Prime Minister P. J. Patterson toured three communities in his Eastern Westmoreland constituency on Wednesday (Feb. 22), where he participated in the contract signing for a school upgrading project, handed over land titles, and commissioned into service, a water supply project.
The communities were Lennox Bigwoods, Dundee and Bethel Town.
Mr. Patterson also used the occasion to bid farewell to his constituents, emphasizing at each stop that this could very well be the last time they would be seeing him in his capacity as Member of Parliament.
He is expected to officially demit office both as Member of Parliament and Prime Minister in a matter of weeks.
“I decided that instead of going around on any motorcade to say farewell, either to the country or to the constituency, I should find appropriate and selected occasions to do so, devoid of the hustle and bustle that is associated with political campaigning”, Mr. Patterson said.
In Lennox Bigwoods, the Prime Minister activated a new water supply system that would be serving that community and adjoining areas. The Lennox Bigwoods water supply system is a feed from the Roaring River water treatment facility located in Central Westmoreland, which produces approximately two million gallons of water per day, one million of which is pumped into the hilly areas of the parish.
“I have been very mindful of the need for justice in providing water for the people of this constituency, as well as providing water for the people of Jamaica, throughout the rural and urban communities alike,” Mr. Patterson told the residents.
The Prime Minister then moved on to Dundee, where he witnessed the signing of a $33.5 million contract for the expansion of the Dundee All-age School, a project which when completed, would afford that institution enough space to revert from a two shift to a one shift system.
In his address there, he announced improvements valued at millions of dollars to take place at other educational institutions throughout the constituency, including the $10 million expansion of the Maud McLeod High School and a $150 million upgrading project at the Bluefields All-age School, which would eventually be upgraded to a secondary institution and renamed after the first political representative of the constituency, Fred Barker Evans.
“My commitment to the transformation of our education is unequivocal and irreversible. Even as I prepare to depart the political stage, I am satisfied that we have devised a policy, which is the subject of national consensus, not a political matter. Education is too important to be treated as a political football,” the Prime Minister stated, noting that the transformation of the education system was well in progress.
The Prime Minister’s final stop for the day was in Bethel Town, where he gave the main address at a handing over ceremony for land titles for the Hermitage/Bethel Town land development, a National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC)/Operation Pride Project.
Mr. Patterson described the Operation Pride programme as one that was “unique in its structure, flavour and complexities, having its own problems, controversies and peculiarities”, but has managed to change the landscape of residential development and land ownership in the country.
“It is no accident, it is no coincidence that two years after I became Prime Minister, I initiated the Operation Pride programme. It was derived out of an imperative to provide land for people at different levels of our income stream, and I was convinced then, as I am convinced today, that it was a right and necessary thing to do”, he stated.
He urged all the beneficiaries to make maximum use of the new opportunities that would open up to them as new landowners.