Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, recently commissioned into service a new US$82 million water supply system, under phase one of the Kingston Metropolitan Area (KMA) Water Supply Rehabilitation Project.
The project, aims to improve the availability and reliability of water on a 24-hour basis to areas in greater Spanish Town and South East St. Catherine. The locations in the old capital that will benefit include: the area bounded by Angels, Waterloo Valley, Mount View Estate, and St. Jago Heights in the North; Innswood, Green Acres, and Fraser’s Content in the West; Syndenham, March Pen, and Lakes Pen in the South; and Central Village/Windsor Heights in the East. Integral to the project is the rehabilitation of the Spanish Town Water Treatment Plant, as part of the upgrading of existing facilities.
Meanwhile, the St. Catherine areas include Portmore, Hellshire, and sections of Bernard Lodge. The project will also impact the southern sections of Kingston.
Dr. Chang said Kingston and St. Catherine suffer from a chronic water supply problem as these parishes normally record the lowest levels of rainfall. He added that part of the reason is the lack of proper investment into the infrastructure of water supply in the region.
The Water and Housing Minister noted that the KMA Water Supply Rehabilitation Project was a positive step forward in addressing that situation as well as providing a stimulus for the development of the parish.
“This particular project is one that has sought to begin the process of correcting that problem by investing significantly in the St. Catherine area and we are already looking at the successor to this programme to ensure that not only will you have reliable water supply in St. Catherine but you will have enough to continue the development process,” he said pointing out that the Old Harbour area was currently the fastest growing area in St. Catherine.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica His Excellency Masahiro Obata (2nd R) listens attentively to KMA Project Manager Garth Jackson of the National water Commission explain aspects of the water treatment plant at Spanish Town which was recently refurbished under the first phase of the US $82 Million KMA Water Improvement Project for Greater Spanish Town and North-East St. Catherine. Looking on are Chairman of the National Water Commission Ray Hadeed (L) Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport Olivia Grange (2nd L) and Mayor of Spanish Town Dr. Andrew Wheatley (3rd L).
The KMA project is funded by US$56 million from the Japanese Government, and US$26 million through the National Water Commission (NWC) by the Government of Jamaica.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Masahiro Obata who addressed the gathering said his government was pleased to facilite the project.
He said now more than ever, it was essential for Jamaica to improve its socio-economic infrastructures and it is towards that objective that the government of Japan, was continuing its support of the efforts of the government and people of Jamaica, to make progress in the economic development of the country.
Mr. Obata said since 1981, the Japanese government has provided over US$534 million in soft loans for over nine flagship projects all across Jamaica that are aimed at developing the country’s tourism industry, spur regional economic activity, and improve the welfare of Jamaican citizens.
“Our aim is not only to provide infrastructure, Japanese motor vehicles and technology, but also to address critical water issues and therefore JBIC’s investment is aimed at developing communities like yours to gain access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities,” he noted.
Chairman of the National Water Commission (NWC), Russell Hadeed pointed out that while the NWC is charged with the responsibility of providing an essential water supply service and the facility is owned and operated by the Commission, the infrastructure, “really belongs to all of us who are served by it.it is therefore important that we all protect these and all the other water supply facilities.”