By Judana Murphy
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness, says the government is committed to rebuilding townships across Jamaica.
“The government recognises that the infrastructure that we have was built at a time long ago and did not conceive of the Jamaica today or of the future of Jamaica to come. Planning is an integral part of this administration,” Holness said.
The prime minister delivered the keynote address during the World Town Planning Day Symposium, held at the National Housing Trust in Kingston on Wednesday November 8 under the theme ‘Building Resilient Communities and Cities through Smart Solutions’.
Giving an update on the three townships being developed, Holness said the Goodyear Factory in St Thomas, which was idle for decades, is now being transformed into the Morant Bay Urban Centre.
“It is not just building a town. We have built a roadway that we have projected will carry the traffic that will come as a result of opening up that area. It’s a fine piece of infrastructure,” he said, adding that drains, fibre-optic cables, sewerage and water mains are being installed.
The prime minister shared that a master plan has been created for Portland, and work is well underway to develop a small town centre for the administrative functions of the parish.
“That is the development of the Boundbrook area. I believe it’s seven acres of land that we’re going to develop, and then we’re going to develop the market that was recently destroyed and some other areas until we execute the master plan,” Holness explained.
Turning to Bernard Lodge in St Catherine, which will have about 10,000 to 15,000 housing solutions and an urban centre, the prime minister said it “will set that area well on its way to become Jamaica’s 15th parish”.
He added that similar plans are being developed for Lucea and Negril, in Hanover and Westmoreland, respectively.
Meanwhile, Holness advised that the National Works Agency (NWA) will be undertaking increased inspection of government buildings, following the 5.6-magnitude earthquake on October 30.
“Sometimes there are structural faults that happen that don’t immediately reveal themselves. We have the engineering capacities. They’re not all in government, but I think we need to leverage them. So, the University of Technology, the University of the West Indies [and] the private engineers, there has to be a process by which they’re all brought together, and I know the [municipal corporations have] some capabilities and they are doing the inspections,” he said.
The prime minister assured Jamaicans that the government’s response to the earthquake did not end the day after, but rather is an “ongoing response for preparedness”.