KINGSTON, Jamaica: A multi-million contract has been signed for the rehabilitation of Hill Sixty Road in Cheswick, St. Thomas. Some $12.8m is earmarked for the project which forms part of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s Rural Development Programme (RDP). The contract signing took place on July 18 between representatives of the Ministry and FSC Construction Works Limited.
“The people of Cheswick must understand that this programme that we are doing has no political colours,” said Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie in his remarks.
“The reason why as a Government we have been doing as much as we’ve been doing, and especially for rural development is because of the economic stability and the steady hands of government.”
The rehabilitation of Hill Sixty Road is being funded by the Ministry’s Equalization Fund.
The RDP was announced in 2021 and is focused on upgrading targeted rural spaces and their infrastructure. Work is on in earnest in Chambers Pen, Hanover – the pilot project for which more than $228m is being spent to update and revive the area. Already, approximately $20m has been expended in Cheswick to rewire houses for connection to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) grid.
“One of the main features of the Rural Development Programme is to install electricity so that communities like Cheswick can have access to JPS power,” added Minister McKenzie.
He also used the occasion to announce additional projects for the St. Thomas community. The Ministry’s Technical Unit and the St. Thomas Municipal Corporation were also tasked to complete the Cheswick Community Centre building at a cost of $20m.
“I saw a half-finished building and I was told that it was supposed to be a community centre for Cheswick. We are going to complete the construction of the community centre” the Minister stated. “I am giving the charge that I would love to go back before the end of this calendar year to hand over the centre.”
Another feature that Cheswick will benefit from is the Indigent Social Housing Programme. A total of eight houses will be constructed for beneficiaries. “Eight persons have been identified and interviews have been done and it is estimated that $60m will be spent to construct housing solutions for these persons,” said Minister McKenzie.
“…Assessment of the area found a number of persons who are registered in the Poor Relief system of Local Government are living in poverty and even below the poverty line.”