Before the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme (JEEP) was launched early this year, persons could easily access the grounds of the St. Richard's Primary School in Kingston, as there were numerous "faults" with the perimeter wall.
With the implementation of the programme, students and staff of the institution, and parents, can now breathe a sigh of relief as the existing boundary wall has been significantly strengthened.
In an interview with JIS News, Principal at the institution, Ms. Jacqueline Williams, expresses delight regarding the construction of the wall, underscoring that it enhances safety and security measures at the school.
"We are happy to have it because the people in the community complained that the children were teasing dogs and throwing stones and garbage in their homes. It was also a bother in terms of safety and security, because anybody could leave or enter the premises and it wasn't really safe for us here," she says.
"It makes the surrounding look much better and it really enhances our safety and security. It was something that was really needed," the Principal adds.
Ms. Williams informs that the previous wall had been in place for numerous years, and that several letters were penned for the structure to be replaced or remodelled.
"The thing is, it needed a lot of money to fix the area that was done by the programme (JEEP), because we found that the wall didn't have any steel. We as a school did not have the kind of resources to fix it, and I was (informed) that it was done under the JEEP, in (collaboration) with members of the St. Richard's Church family," she says.
Ms. Williams points out that the wall was constructed during the summer holidays.
Meanwhile, Pastor of the Torrington United Church, in Kingston, Rev. Donovan McPherson, says the retaining wall which is being built close to its premises with the help of JEEP, "is at an advanced stage of completion."
"As a congregation, we had started to do some work on the retaining wall, which is adjacent to the property that we own. It was to ensure protection, not only of the land but also of the surrounding buildings. We reached a point where we approached the Member of Parliament (Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies) for some assistance, because we recognised that what was required would be beyond the ability of the church to respond. He was gracious enough to facilitate the work through the National Works Agency," he tells JIS News.
Rev. McPherson says several persons- men and women- have gained employment from the on-going construction. "The community is benefitting in partnership with the church and I think all in all, it is a good effort," he adds, noting that a lot of previously unattached persons reside in the community.
These two projects fall under the Works component of the JEEP, which employed some 12,230 Jamaicans in the First Phase.
Approximately 2,700 other persons were employed in Agriculture, 260 in the Labour and Social Security Ministry and 101 in the Education sector. Some $1.2 billion was budgeted for Phase One of the programme.
For Phase Two, a sum of $6 billion has been earmarked to be spent on projects in the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Labour and Social Security; and Housing; HEART Trust/NTA and the National Housing Trust (NHT).
It is projected that some 35,000 persons will be employed during this phase of the programme.
Speaking at the launch of the programme (in March), Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller described it as one of the most carefully constructed initiatives undertaken by any administration.
"It was fully discussed and approved at Cabinet. A Ministry Paper was tabled in Parliament, followed by extensive questioning on all aspects of the programme. I can assure the Jamaican people that accountability, transparency and efficiency will be the hallmarks in the management of this programme," she said.
The JEEP is one of the strategies of the Government to respond to the chronic unemployment status of some Jamaicans, particularly those in the lower socio-economic strata, persons with special needs as well as those with low skill levels.