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New Port Maria Market officially opened

New Port Maria Market officially opened

PORT MARIA, St. Mary: Vendors and shoppers now have improved operating  and shopping experience with the official opening of the Port Maria Market.

The $66 million facility was built through funds provided by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

“This market represents the fourth new market that the government of Prime Minister Andrew Holness has built since 2016…The policy of this Government is to make our markets more friendly, to make it enticing for persons to come,” said Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie.

“I want to urge the vendors that it is important that they utilize the market and not just the vendors, but those who come to shop. Support those persons who are operating under orders and come into the market. It’s clean and spacious.”

He was speaking at the official opening ceremony in Port Maria on February 13.

The Minister also announced that phase two of Port Maria Market project is expected to go to tender during the 2024/2025 fiscal year.

“We’re going to go up one more floor with the market to have better shops and office space to attract more persons to come into the market. They are expecting

expecting to spend $70m on that project.”

The Ministry has responsibility for some 37 markets across the country- 31 of which are functioning.

“The government will be providing some $250m to repair and to clean sanitary facilities in all markets across Jamaica,” added Minister McKenzie.

He also used the occasion to commend the staff of the St. Mary Municipal Corporation for the efforts over the years to pursue the completion of the Port Maria Market.

The most recently constructed market was the Hopewell Market in Hanover. Meanwhile, the Annotto Bay Market in St. Mary is earmarked to receive a spend of some $70m to renovate the facility. The Highgate Market, also in the parish, was gutted by fire in July 2022.

An interim arrangement is in place for the vendors to operate from a temporary location until the replacement facility is constructed.

“I’ve spent close to some $800m in the parish of St. Mary since we became Government in 2016. All the works that we have done are living testimony to the performance of the Government,” the Minister shared.

“This is about peace, productivity, and prosperity. Productivity comes out of the market where the vendors can come and ply their trade, get more money in their pockets, and that will now create prosperity. Once the prosperity is evident, you will have peace and that is what we are all about- the productivity, the peace and prosperity St Mary.”



Major facelift for Ocho Rios Transportation Centre

OCHO RIOS, St. Ann: In keeping with its responsibility to improve service offerings to the public; the Ocho Rios Transportation Centre will receive a $7 million overhaul through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s Equalization Fund.

The funding will be made available to its operator, the St. Ann Municipal Corporation.

“The Ministry is also going to be engaging the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in expanding the work that is taking place at the transportation centre and to see how best we can improve the conditions,” explained Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenize.

Repairs have been effected to the roads inside the centre, as well as corrective works done on the sewage system, which recently experienced issues.

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is also actively involved in repairing and installing streetlights to improve overall safety and visibility.

“I want to commend the people who operate inside here. They are the ones who came forward and offered to undertake some of the remedial work. In fact, this [road patching] work being done currently, is by people who saw the need and have responded in a very positive way,” the Minister said during a recent visit to the facility.

He also emphasized the significance of the centre, which serves transport operators, small business operators and the travelling public who rely on efficient public transportation services.

Meanwhile, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Honourable Matthew Samuda, emphasised the importance of a coordinated multi-agency effort to get lasting results.

“I thank the business community that assisted us to get the work started, while the proper governance processes are followed to (obtain the funds necessary to) repair the transportation centre,” he stated.

“Ultimately, the business people and transport operators need a functional facility to operate and feed their family. Equally important, the functioning of the town, at large, requires this facility to function so that traffic does not back up and disrupt public order.”

Upgraded Clarendon Drop-In Centre and Night Shelter opened

DENBIGH, Clarendon: The rehabilitated and upgraded Clarendon Drop-In Centre and Night Shelter was opened during a special ceremony on December 8.

The facility, located adjacent to the Clarendon Infirmary on East Street in Denbigh Works, was rehabilitated, upgraded, and refurbished to the tune of J$9 million through an allocation from the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, in his remarks at the ceremony called on the private sector to partner with the government to provide for the poor and destitute. He also disclosed that concerns are being expressed by residents about the influx of street people in rural parishes and towns, namely Clarendon and the town of Santa Cruz in St Elizabeth.

Jamaica has a homeless population of roughly 3,000 with approximately 80 percent of being men.

Meanwhile, Minister McKenzie noted that the homeless population is at significant risk and is increasingly being targeted by criminals.

“It is a sad day when a country turns on the homeless population in the way in which some of these criminals have,” he said. “And you know what is sad about it, I don’t hear one of these so-called human rights groups coming out condemning these actions. I don’t hear anybody talking about how brutal and how wicked these people are against the homeless of this country.”

The Clarendon Night Shelter has the capacity to sleep 25 persons nightly.

Drop-In Centres are the first point of contact for homeless persons and offer a range of care, including baths and other hygiene care, meals, and medical assessment.

There are similar facilities in St. Thomas, St. Mary, St. Ann, Trelawny, St James, Hanover, St. Elizabeth, and St. Catherine. The Clarendon Drop-In Centre was expanded to incorporate a night shelter.
The MLGCD’s Board of Supervision operates the Drop-In Centres and Night Shelters through the Poor Relief Departments at the Municipal Corporations islandwide. Night Shelters were also opened in Trelawny and St. Ann this year.

The St. James, Westmoreland as well as the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporations also operate Night Shelters. The Ministry also gives support to the Ebenezer Home in Mandeville, an in-house rehabilitation centre, as well as the Portland Rehabilitation Management Centre.

The Desmond McKenzie Transitional Centre in Kingston is also being expanded to accommodate more than 100 persons.


Two Indigent Houses handed over in Manchester

KENDAL, Manchester: Two indigent houses have been handed over in the communities of Coley Mountain and Kendal each by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

The units- a studio and a two-bedroom family unit, were constructed at a cost of approximately J$16.5 million under the Ministry’s Indigent Housing Programme.

During the handover ceremony on December 1 at Kendal, Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, emphasized that the Government has been consistent in its response to the housing needs of Jamaicans.

“It is worth repeating that since 2016, this Administration has built more houses than any other for (persons at) every level of society,” he said.

He cited the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme, the Indigent Housing Programme, the National Housing Trust (NHT), and the Housing Agency of Jamaica Limited (HAJ), as well as partnerships forged with private sector stakeholders, among the entities and arrangements contributing to the housing stock.

Minister McKenzie also urged one of the recipients of Friday’s presentations, Kendal resident, Nadine Lawrence, to take care of the new house.

Ms. Lawrence, whose board house was destroyed by fire in 2020, said she was grateful for her new two-bedroom home.

“I could not do it. My children could not do it; we are poor. Other people in the community were there with me during my time of loss of my board dwelling. [The] Government has provided me with a concrete house now and I thank you so much. I am thankful that I have a key and can sleep (peacefully).”

Mr. Rodney Dwyer was the beneficiary of a studio unit in Coley Mountain.

The Indigent Housing Programme is spearheaded by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development through the Poor Relief Department at each Municipal Corporation and provides housing solutions to persons registered as poor. This initiative began in 2016 and falls under the Ministry’s Municipal Social Assistance Programme (MSAP).

MSAP was created to offer a viable solution to the housing crises evidenced among the vulnerable population. Requests for full units or assistance with repairs continue to be one of the main applications made of the Poor Relief Departments.

The Indigent Housing Programme reflects the policy of the Ministry to promote modernity and to elevate the standards of housing for the poor, by building only concrete houses with basic amenities.


Local Gov’t Minister hosts Youth Mayors’ Forum

RUNAWAY BAY, St. Ann: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, has committed J$1 million each to the 14 Junior Councils to undertake their group projects during their one-year term.

The Minister hosted the new cohort of Youth Mayors, representing the respective Municipal Corporations and the Municipality of Portmore, at a forum in Runaway Bay, St. Ann on November 16.

The Youth Mayor presented their proposed group projects and their impact on their communities. The initiatives ranged from the provision of water tanks to schools as well as the renovation of football fields, bus stops and infirmaries to catering to the mentally ill.

“As I listened to all of your presentations they were of high quality, well put together, and most importantly, they were excellently delivered, and I must commend you,” stated Minister McKenzie.

“Local Government is the stable for producing outstanding political leaders.”

He used the Youth Mayors’ Forum to highlight the role of local government in nurturing future political leaders, as he encouraged the young leaders to view their roles as “stepping stones” into the complex world of politics.

“I want to encourage you, because a lot of people feel that if you’re going into politics, you must walk in and become a Member of Parliament. While it is good to have ambition, it is also good to experience what it is all about by being a [Local Government] Councillor,” the Minister added.

He urged the Youth Mayors to recognise the importance of gaining experience as a parochial representative (Councillor) before pursuing higher political ambitions, as he alluded to the challenges and the responsibilities of the role.

Minister McKenzie also acknowledged the efforts of the Youth Mayors on the brilliance exhibited during their presentations. He noted the continuous improvement in the forum’s quality since its introduction in 2016.

He also encouraged them to remain engaged in politics even after their term has ended.

The Minister expressed gratitude to the youth leaders for their participation in the programme and challenged them to ensure the successful execution of their projects.

The Youth Mayors’ Forum form part of the activities of Local Government and Community Month, which is observed in November each year.

Ocho Rios gets $22m night shelter

OCHO RIOS, St. Ann: A $22 million night shelter to serve the resort town of Ocho Rios, St. Ann and its environs is officially opened for operations.

The building, which is sited in Bucksfield, Ocho Rios, was opened by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie on August 18.

The homeless shelter was constructed to the adjoining Ocho Rios Drop-in Centre and can sleep 13 men and seven women at a time. It will provide temporary shelter, meals, and bathroom amenities.

“The drop-in centre since it was established, we not only take them in and give them medical care and look after their needs, but we also try to rehabilitate them,” said Minister McKenzie.

Data from the Poor Relief Department points to the successful rehabilitation and reintegration of five homeless individuals into permanent employment. One of the Ocho Rios Drop-In Centre residents is pursuing a certificate in agriculture at Ebony Park Heart Academy.

According to Byron Gilzene, the homeless shelter will help him escape the violence on the streets.

“To contribute to homeless persons is a blessing. I was hospitalized two weeks ago and almost died from wounds inflicted by being homeless sleeping in the bus park. It gives me great enthusiasm that this place, that is now my home, will be protecting me,” he shared.

Mr. Gilzene also assists with the landscaping works at the new facility.

The Minister also disclosed that the town of Brown’s Town, St. Ann, which has a growing number of homeless individuals, is on the Ministry’s radar.

“Our next port of call will be the Brown’s Town area to see if we could put in something…that would deal with the issues there.”

Additionally, Minister McKenzie shared that the Government has allocated over $100 million in social security for the poor and destitute in St. Ann for the 2023/2024 fiscal year to deal with homelessness and improving the lives of vulnerable citizens.



Ground broken for house in Kendal, Manchester -project part of $300m spend by Local Gov’t in the parish

KENDAL, Manchester: Ground has been broken for the construction of an indigent house for a family in Kendal, Manchester under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s Municipal Social Assistance Programme (MSAP).

Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, at the groundbreaking ceremony on August 2, said the parish of Manchester has benefited from $300 million in social programmes by the Ministry.

“We have not only built water shops, but we have also repaired roads. We have spent more money in the parish on building new infrastructure and carrying out repairs at the infirmary, than we have spent in any other parish.”

Four water shops were built in the parish and more than $70m invested in summer employment programmes for young people.

The Minister also shared that the Ministry recently provided funds to upgrade the Mandeville Tax Office in a move to bolster the capacity of the Manchester Municipal Corporation to generate more revenue.

There are also ongoing discussions about the rehabilitation of the Mandeville Market.

Mayor of Mandeville, Councillor Donovan Mitchell and Member of Parliament for Manchester Central, Rhoda Moy Crawford, also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.

The Indigent Housing Programme was introduced under MSAP in 2017 and is designed to address the housing difficulties faced by the poor and most vulnerable.

The Ministry has completed at least 60 units islandwide, with work ongoing on several others. Three types of solutions have been developed – studio units, one-bedroom units and two-bedroom family units. The houses are made of concrete and feature sloped roofs that enable rainwater harvesting.

Applicants are screened through the Poor Relief Departments, where an investigation and verification procedure are carried out to establish the need.

Potential beneficiaries must also demonstrate ownership of the property on which the house is to be built or provide documentation that they are lawfully entitled to tenure on such property.

Multimillion-dollar Park to bring pride to Maverley

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Jamaica Observer): RESIDENTS of Maverley in St Andrew on Tuesday (August 23) watched with excitement as Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other members of central and local government broke ground for a multimillion-dollar park in the community.


PM Holness and Minister of Finance Nigel Clarke, who is the Member of Parliament for St Andrew North Western in which Maverley is located, as well as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Desmond McKenzie, were tight-lipped about the cost of the project, but they declared that they were sure it will be a source of pride for residents and the people of surrounding communities.


The park will be constructed on an open lot at the corner of Molynes Road and West Main Drive. This run-down lot, owned by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC), has been used over many years to host church services and other activities or as a bypass for pedestrians heading into or leaving Maverley via Molynes Road.


Minister McKenzie told the Jamaica Observer that the project is part of the Government’s community renewal programme that started in 2016. He said the Maverley Park will be one of the largest public parks built by the Government.


“We have done about 11 parks already across the country, and we have about 16 that are lined up to be done. This is one of the largest that we will be undertaking. What it will do is restore community pride and allow the people to have a place they can go hang out and feel free. The park will be equipped with Internet, bathroom, and toilet facilities. It is going to be a comprehensive facility with canteen facilities and a walking trail. It will be outstanding and should be finished hopefully in the next 12 months. The procurement process is almost complete, so once that is completed, we are going to move to the next phase,” said McKenzie.


In the meantime, PM Holness pointed to the importance of the project as he highlighted that not many safe spaces exist for residents of Corporate Area communities to express themselves and exercise. He encouraged the residents of Maverley to help maintain the facilities and appealed to the KSAMC to ensure adequate security is in place at all times.


Top Aberdeen gets water supply project

The community of Top Aberdeen and in North East St. Elizabeth now boast its own reliable supply of piped, potable water.

The J$111 million water supply project was handed over to the community by the Rural Water Supply Limited – an agency of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development – during a ceremony on February 3.

Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie described the initiative as another tangible marker of the Government’s commitment to improve living standards by ensuring access to basic utilities.

“It reflects our recognition that all Jamaicans, not only those in our two cities and town centres, need this access to improve their own lives in the pursuit of prosperity. It is also one of the major projects implemented since the Ministry was reshaped as the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in the last financial year,” he said during the commissioning of the Top Aberdeen Water Supply Project.

“A pumping station has been built. New distribution and transmission pipelines have been installed. A new water storage tank has been constructed. To reduce operational costs and improve efficiency, a solar pumping system has been installed. All of this has been done at a cost of J$111 million, and over 1,600 residents of Top Aberdeen will benefit from this project.”

The St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation will be the custodian of the facility. Residents must apply to the National Water Commission (NWC) for the connection of the water supply to their homes.

Member of Parliament for North East St. Elizabeth, Delroy Sloley, has encouraged residents to sign up for their supply in short order with the NWC, which will grant a 50 per cent discount on connection fees to the first 50 residents who apply.

Minister McKenzie also stated that his Ministry is committed to the implementation of projects and programmes to expand minor water supply across Jamaica, in keeping with its responsibilities under the National Water Sector Policy and Implementation Plan.

“The Top Aberdeen Water Supply project is one important component of the work scheduled for this financial year under the Rural Development Programme. A total of $325 million was allocated to provide water solutions, including water shops, for a range of communities across six parishes (St. Catherine, St. Ann, Clarendon, St. Elizabeth, Portland, and St. James), and while the pace of work has been affected by COVID-19, we are determined to deliver.”

Homeless Shelter to Be Constructed in Falmouth

JIS NEWS- Falmouth, Trelawny: Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, broke ground for the construction of a state-of-the art homeless shelter in Falmouth, Trelawny, on July 8.

The facility, which will be built at a cost of $25 million, will have the capacity to house 20 persons.

The shelter, the first of its kind outside the Corporate Area, will provide temporary shelter, meals, and bathroom amenities for the approximately 25 homeless persons in the parish. It is slated for completion by the end of 2021.

In his address, Mr. McKenzie reaffirmed Government’s commitment to the homeless population, through the continued provision of holistic care and development of appropriate infrastructure to accommodate them.

“We are doing this because it is our responsibility. Many of these persons have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Jamaica, but something went wrong along the way,” he said.

“Our response to the homeless population has been wide. We have partnered with Red Stripe, Lasco, GraceKennedy and we will continue to partner with the churches and the private sector to provide a basis for these people to survive.”

He announced that an additional eight homeless shelters will be built across the island within the next two years.

There are more than 3,000 homeless persons across the island.

For her part, Member of Parliament for Trelawny South and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert, welcomed the move to build the facility in the parish.

“The Government continues to place emphasis on the less fortunate in the population – the people who cannot afford to make the plans they need to. We thank the Government for caring and for putting their words into action and demonstrating that we do care for all Jamaicans, particularly those of us who are less fortunate,” she said.