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Story Highlights

  • The facilities, which were officially handed over on January 9, were financed through grant funding provided under the European Union’s (EU) Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol.
  • Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke described the Toll Gate complex as another “milestone achievement” by the ministry and government.
  • Provision of sports facilities is integral to the government’s sugar industry transformation programme currently underway.

Residents of Toll Gate and its environs in Clarendon now have access to a newly refurbished community centre and sports complex, which were rehabilitated at a cost of approximately $22 million.

The projects, implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Sugar Transformation Unit (STU) and executed by the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), involved construction of a new playfield, improvement of a multi-purpose court and community centre, installation of a perimeter fence, and acquisition of equipment for property maintenance.

The facilities, which were officially handed over on January 9, were financed through grant funding provided under the European Union’s (EU) Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol. The protocol targets, among other things, the provision of significant benefits to stakeholders in sugar producing communities islandwide.

Contracts valued at approximately $17.9 million, were also signed by representatives of the STU and engineering firm, N.F. Barnes Construction and Equipment Company, to rehabilitate the Water Well sports complex at Race Course, also in Clarendon.

Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Hon. Roger Clarke, who delivered the main address, described the Toll Gate complex as another “milestone achievement” by the ministry and government, “in our continued thrust to improve the lives of our citizens in the sugar dependent and surrounding areas.”

He noted that the provision of sports facilities is integral to the government’s sugar industry transformation programme currently underway. Additionally, the complex is part of the continuation of the administration’s implementation of the sugar adaptation strategy.

This, he explained, is geared towards developing and maintaining a commercially viable sugar cane industry, led by the private sector; improving economic, social and environmental infrastructure in sugar dependent communities; and establishing an enabling national policy environment for the sugar sector to expand and prosper.

“Through our Sugar Transformation Unit, and with the support of the European Union, we are undertaking a major effort to significantly improve the quality of clinics, schools, rural roads, water supply systems, as well as sporting facilities in sugar dependent communities across the country,” Mr. Clarke pointed out.

Meanwhile, Head of Infrastructure and Rural Development at the EU Mission in Jamaica, Thomas Opperer, said refurbishment of the Toll Gate complex and impending rehabilitation of the Water Well facility are evidence of the Government of Jamaica’s and EU’s emphasis on social development as part of the Accompanying Measures for Sugar (AMS). He informed that under the AMS, the EU is targeting the provision of more than $21.7 billion (€148 million) in grant funding between 2007 and 2017.

Mr. Opperer explained that the main objective of Jamaica’s programme is supporting implementation of the country strategy for the adaptation of the sugar sector, and that within this framework, there are two distinctive objectives – creation of a commercially viable sugar industry and development of sugar dependent areas.

“In both areas, the programme has delivered impressive results. The programme has successfully contributed to improving the competitiveness of the industry, through the provision of extra credit and rehabilitation of infrastructure. The programme has also effectively cushioned the social impact of the transformation process of the industry through vocational training, business support, and providing access to social services and housing,” he noted, adding that Jamaica’s country programme is one of the most successful, globally.

For his part, Local Government and Community Development Minister, and Member of Parliament for south west Clarendon, where the Toll Gate complex is located, Hon. Noel Arscott, described it as a “blessing”.

He said the newly refurbished facility will significantly complement the community’s recently renovated post office and repairs to the access road leading to the Toll Gate Primary School.

Mr. Arscott advised that the Social Development Commission (SDC) will assume direct responsibility for managing the Toll Gate complex, on behalf of the community.