- The Westmoreland Parish Council is to receive two ambulances and two fire trucks, valued at $8 million (US$81,010), from the Government of Japan.
- Provision of the units is being facilitated under Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots and Human Security Project (GGP), in partnership with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Diplomacy (SPJD).
- The units will increase the total number of fire trucks and ambulances in Westmoreland from two to eight.
The Westmoreland Parish Council is to receive two ambulances and two fire trucks, valued at $8 million (US$81,010), from the Government of Japan.
Provision of the units is being facilitated under Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots and Human Security Project (GGP), in partnership with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Diplomacy (SPJD).
The units, which are due in the island within the next few months, will increase the total number of fire trucks and ambulances which the Parish Council has to serve Westmoreland from two to eight.
The additional vehicles are expected to significantly boost the Council and its agencies’ capacity to respond to emergencies such as fires.
Grant contracts for the provisions were, on Monday, March 24, signed at the Japanese Embassy in Kingston by Charge d’Affairs, Koji Tomita, and Westmoreland Parish Council Chairman and Savanna-la-Mar Mayor, Councillor Bertel Moore.
In his remarks, Mr. Tomita said the grant, being channeled through the Embassy, will cover the cost of re-conditioning the vehicles as well as shipping fees to transport them from Japan to Jamaica.
“Those ambulances and fire trucks will enable the authorities in Westmoreland to provide emergency attention for the people in dire need within the parish and neighbouring communities. This project is, indeed, an excellent example of the goodwill of both the people and Government of Japan, towards the Jamaican people,” the Charge d’Affairs stated.
Mr, Tomita pointed out that the grant and, by extension, vehicles are consistent with Japan’s development policy focusing on human security which highlights the protection and empowerment of people.
“It is our sincere hope that with the addition of these emergency response vehicles, the capabilities of the hospital and fire brigade services in Westmoreland will be enhanced,” he added.
In welcoming the gesture, Mr. Moore described the signing as “a new day in the history of the Westmorland Parish Council.” He argued that the current complement of ambulances and fire trucks “is totally inadequate” to serve Westmoreland.
“There is hardly a day when you don’t hear about a fire in our parish. But with these two (fire trucks, they) will do a great deal to the parish (in terms of emergency response), (We are) very grateful for the gifts,” he said.
In his remarks, Savanna-la-Mar Deputy Mayor and Councillor for the Bethel Town Division, Danree Delancy, pointed out that the Japanese Government’s gesture resulted, to some extent, from the Council’s representation, through the Embassy in Jamaica, for assistance with the establishment of a fire sub-station in the community, located in Eastern Westmoreland, for which State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Luther Buchanan, is the Member of Parliament.
“This (proposed fire sub-station) is based on the fact that Bethel Town is some 25 miles away from (Westmoreland’s capital) Savanna-la-Mar, and whenever there is a fire, despite the best efforts of the fire department, they (invariably) cannot reach this area (from Savanna-la-Mar) in time or before the fire destroys all that is in its path,” he outlined.
Mr. Delancy said a team from the Embassy visited and met with the Council to get a first hand view of the extent of the parish’s overall emergency response capacity, to determine the extent of assistance that could be provided.
“We (subsequently) learnt that the Japanese government was willing to give us, after seeing the real need for a fire sub-station in Bethel Town, not one but two fire trucks and two ambulances. One of these trucks will be placed in Savanna-la-Mar and one ambulance in Negril; the other fire truck and ambulance (will be based) in Bethel Town,” he informed.
In expressing gratitude for the additional vehicles, Mr. Delancy indicated that “we look forward to continuing and strengthening our partnership, friendship, relationships with the Government and people of Japan.”