JIS News

Refurbishing work has begun in earnest on the Buena Vesta Community Centre in south eastern St. Elizabeth, the site selected as the National Labour Day project.
This project is being supervised by members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
In an interview with JIS News, Lance Corporal M. McPherson says that by Labour Day (May 23), the project should be almost 75 per cent complete, given the amount of “preliminary work” currently taking place at the site.
“At this point, one could estimate that we are about 15 per cent complete. What has been affecting us mostly has been the everyday rain, but what we try to do to counter this, is to start as early as possible in the mornings,” he indicated.
Labour Day activities islandwide will be carried out under the theme: ‘Prepare for Disaster, Recover Faster’.
Lance Corporal McPherson says that in his opinion, the National Labour Day Committee has made a very good choice to rehabilitate the centre, to be used as a shelter during times of natural disasters.
“When I first saw the community centre after Hurricane Ivan, it appeared to be very dilapidated and in a bad state. Some of the work which we have been doing to correct the situation include the demolition of existing columns, the re-enforcement of walls, the establishment of much bigger columns to support a new kind of roof, which will actually be a decked roof, as against the original zinc roof,” he explains.
The Lance Corporal notes that there are currently 17 persons “working assiduously” on the project.
“These persons are from and around the community of Buena Vesta. I can assure you that all are very good tradesmen.We from the JDF have to make sure that we are here on spot to monitor every stage of the work,” he says.
Lance Corporal McPherson says that with proper maintenance, the structure should last for at least 50 years.
“The building can serve as a multipurpose facility, such as a basic school, community centre and also as a shelter in times of disaster,” he adds.
A resident of the community, Neville Dennis tells JIS News that he is “extremely happy” that the Buena Vesta community centre has been chosen as the national Labour Day project.
“This is the greatest thing that I have ever seen happen here. I know that it will go a long way in helping to uplift the community. To me, what the workmen are doing is very necessary, especially the laying of a deck roof. I recall that after Hurricane Ivan there was no roof on the structure. On Labour Day I will be here doing my part, as it should be a very good time for all who will be working on the building,” he says.
Mr. Dennis is encouraging other Jamaicans from all over the island to do something in their communities on Labour Day.
“We all should try to do something positive on this special day for the benefit of not just our community, but also for our country,” he emphasises.
Another resident of Buena Vesta, Bernice Wright says that when she first heard about the selection of the community centre as the national project, she was quite moved.
“I was very impressed as I feel that this centre can serve to help develop the skills of the residents of the area. I know that it will be of benefit to all who use it.It is the first since I live here, that I have heard such good news. To other persons I say come out in your numbers and let us work together on Labour Day,” she says.
Canute Griffith, a tradesman working at the site tells JIS News that this is one of the best things to happen in the community in over 50 years.
“I feel proud to know that we are recognised by the government and the Labour Day Committee, even though we are a poor little community. that some money and a good shelter can be placed in the community for the benefit of not just us but others who might need a place to stay in a disaster. My one wish is that we will complete it in time, so that other activities can take place at this site,” he says.
Mr. Griffith says that many of the children from Buena Vesta will benefit directly from the efforts of the construction team.
“The little kids will have access to a local basic school and as result, they will not have to travel far outside of the area to be educated. I truly appreciate this effort and my promise is that we are going to construct this building in the right and proper way,” he notes.
Mr. Griffith points out that it is not the first time that the community is benefiting from Labour Day activities.
“The very road that I am standing on that leads into Buena Vesta came about as a result of a request made by a deaf man, Mr. Ervin Smith to the late former Prime Minister, Michael Manley many years ago. Mr. Manley responded by sending two bulldozers and that was it,” he says.
Mr. Griffith says he is urging all Jamaicans to come out on Labour Day and do some work in their communities, such as the planting of trees.

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