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Portland Infirmary to get new male ward

KINGSTON, Jamaica: In keeping with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s mandate to upgrade the living conditions and plants of the country’s infirmaries; ground was broken for a new $45 million male ward at the Portland Infirmary.

“We are using the Portland Infirmary as the pilot project for the model infirmary. We want to give a different look, a different feel to how we treat our residents,” disclosed Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie.

He was speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for the new living quarters on November 6, 2019.

The Portland Infirmary also received funding for the construction of a $15 million female ward in 2018. The facility, which houses 59 residents at its site in Port Antonio, is on track to serve as a model institution.

All infirmaries will also boast a therapeutic park, the first of which will be done at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary as part of the activities to mark for Local Government and Community month 2019.

Industrial washers, dryers and standby generators will also be common features at the government-operated facilities. There are also plans by the Ministry to procure and distribute 500 new mattresses across infirmaries.

Mayor of Port Antonio, Councillor Paul Thompson, noted that the efforts of the Ministry and the Portland Municipal Corporation to enrich the lives of the residents are commendable.

“This upgrade will make life more comfortable for the residents and make working conditions better for the staff.”

Member of Parliament (MP) for East Portland, Mrs. Ann-Marie Vaz, express delight at the transformation of the Portland Infirmary, and described it as a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to help the most vulnerable in the society.

The place is a beautiful sight to behold,” added Mr. Daryl Vaz, MP for West Portland, who has been contributing a portion of his parliamentary salary to the infirmary since 2014. To date, his contribution has equalled $1.4m.

Construction of Barnett Street Fire Station on track

JIS NEWS, Montego Bay: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, says completion of the Barnett Street Fire Station in St. James is on track to be completed before the 12-month deadline.

Ground was broken for the facility in June of this year.

The Minister, who was speaking to journalists following a tour of the fire station site on September 12, said the project is running ahead of schedule and is not expected to exceed the budget.

He added that completion of the fire station will “solve the problem [of coverage] in Montego Bay, and the entire western part of the island”.

Construction of the fire station is being funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) at a cost of $534.9 million, and is being done under the organisation’s Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme (DVRP).

The DVRP initiative supports the Government’s overall thrust in strengthening climate and disaster risk management within the wider context of sustainable development. This includes construction of national priority infrastructure, such as fire stations.

The new fire station, which will have the capacity to house 200 firefighters, will replace the old Barnett Street facility that was demolished in 2006. Since then, firefighters have been operating from the Montego Freeport.

In the meantime, the Minister underscored the Government’s commitment to the improvement of the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

“[Since 2016], we have spent close to $800 million to improve the Fire Brigade, not just in terms of building out facilities but providing vital equipment to the men and women of the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” Mr. McKenzie said.

Two additional fire stations will be built at Port Maria in St. Mary and Yallahs in St. Thomas under the DVRP.

Mr. McKenzie pointed out that work is set to commence on the fire station in Port Maria by the end of October, and that Cabinet recently approved the contract for the construction of the facility in Yallahs.

“We are expecting that by the end of the next calendar year, the country will have three brand-new facilities to aid the firemen and firewomen across the country,” the Minister said.

For his part, Assistant Commissioner at the Jamaica Fire Brigade (Region Four), Floyd McLean, said the new facility in Montego Bay will help to boost staff morale.

“It is a good push, and I cannot wait until we occupy the building. It will also help us to better serve the community, knowing that we are settled and we do not have too much of the back and forth in respect to where we are,” Mr. McLean said.

The touring party included Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis; and Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney.

$120m homeless shelter for Corporate Area – Facility to be built in downtown Kingston

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development will construct a J$120 million homeless shelter during this fiscal year.

“The designs have been completed and the works have already been put to tender. This facility will cater to over 300 Jamaicans who are living on the streets, and lacking proper care,” Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, disclosed during his 2019/2020 Sectoral Presentation.

“We are not only providing physical spaces for the acre of the homeless. This year, $30 million will be provided to the drop-in centres for nutritional support.”

Minister McKenzie also highlighted that the administrative services for the homeless have been greatly enhanced, and eight Parish Homelessness Committees were also established during the 2018/2019 financial year.

New drop-in centres have been built and opened in St. Ann, St. Mary, Hanover and St. Elizabeth since 2018. With construction at more than fifty percent; the parishes of Trelawny and St. Thomas are on track to complete their facilities this year.

“We are also focused on enhancing the quality of life for residents at the infirmaries. The provision of uninterrupted electricity is critical in this respect. That is why this year, solar panels will be installed at all our infirmaries at an estimated cost of $27 million, thanks to the National Housing Trust,” he said.

Through the sport of the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund, the delivery of generators has begun. By the end of the 2019, all infirmaries will be equipped with solar panels, generators and closed circuit television systems will be installed for the safety and comfort of residents and staff.

“The Board of Supervision (BOS) is the Ministry’s guardian of the Social Protection Programme and a beacon of hope for our vulnerable people,” added Minister McKenzie.

“I commend the staff of the BOS as they work to protect our citizens in partnership with the Local Authorities. In this regard, I wish to announce that the Golden Age Hoem in Vineyard Town and the Denham Town Golden Age Homes were returned to the custodianship of this Ministry on February 5 this year, as well as the full care of the indoor and outdoor poor.”

Drop-In Centre opens in St. Elizabeth

BLACK RIVER, St. Elizabeth: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, has opened the country’s fourth Drop-In Centre in St. Elizabeth.

The St. Elizabeth Drop-In Centre, located at the municipal corporation’s complex in Black River, will provide care, meals and baths for the parish’s homeless population.

Approximately $12 million was expended on the construction of the government-operated facility that features a kitchen, dining area, doctor’s office, nurse’s station and treatment room, bathrooms and laundry room. The Centre is also accessible to the physically challenged.

“We have put staff in all the facilities and I am pleased to announce that in this year’s budget for the Ministry of Local Government, we have funds to operate all the centres,” Minister McKenzie stated.

“We are not operating any facility under this Administration that is going to abuse the people who seek the help of the State and that is why we intend to offer advanced training to those who work within our institutions.”


The St. Elizabeth Drop-In Centre was officially handed over by the Minister to the St. Elizabeth Municipal Corporation on April 26, 2019.


Construction began on four Drop-In Centres during the 2017/2018 financial year under the Ministry’s Social Protection Programme. It is envisioned that the facilities will deliver services with a sense of dignity to homeless persons.

Similar facilities were previously opened in Ocho Rios, St. Ann; Port Maria in St. Mary and Lucea, Hanover. They are tasked with offering medical attention, nutrition and temporary housing for persons in need.

Minister McKenzie has described the Drop-In Centre Project as an increasing investment by the Government in making the structures and services of Local Government more effective.

“The expansion of national facilities that will provide care and comfort to our homeless citizens, is an important aspect of the work of this Government. It is one of the features of the human face of this Administration, and a symbol of our commitment to assisting the vulnerable in our society.”

New Female Ward to be Built at Manchester Infirmary

MANDEVILLE, Manchester (JIS): A new $40 million female ward is to be constructed at the Manchester Infirmary, located at Royal Flat.

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, broke ground for the building on Thursday, April 25. It is expected to be completed by year end.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. McKenzie said a solar water heating system and an energy saving water harvesting system would be installed to minimise the cost of electricity.

The sum for the building is part of an allocation of $200 million from the National Housing Trust (NHT), to help improve infirmaries across the island.

The infirmary will also be getting a new generator capable of running the facility when the public power supply is not available.

Mr. McKenzie said residents of the infirmary were once hard-working, honest and decent Jamaicans, who used to pay taxes, but might have fallen on hard times, so it is the State’s responsibility to provide for them.

“We are providing for them because many of them helped to create the foundation for the Jamaica we live in today. Many of the residents in our infirmaries created a kinder, gentler society, so it is our responsibility as leaders to care for them,” he added.

The Minister said the Government is committed to improving the lives of Jamaica’s poor, noting that in his upcoming Sectoral Debate presentation in the House, he would be announcing a number of areas of improvement for poor relief in Manchester.

Mr. McKenzie encouraged the staff to take good care of the new ward when it is constructed.

“We are going to ensure that workers in these facilities are trained, and we will be announcing a slew of new arrangements as they relate to training for workers, because we rely on them to provide the necessary support for the residents,” he said.

Minister presents St. Ann senior citizens with new homes

OCHO RIOS, St. Ann: Two senior citizens have received new homes in keeping with the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development’s thrust to protect the vulnerable, in the communities of Lime Hall and Mile End, St. Ann respectively.

Minister Desmond McKenzie officially handed over the keys for the furnished studio units – built at a total cost of $4 million – to the recipients during a special ceremony on January 4, 2018 in St. Ann.

The construction of the homes for 75 year-old Gladstone Taylor of Lime Hall and Mile End resident Albert Osbourne, 91, falls under the Ministry’s Municipal Social Assistance Programme (MSAP) designed for the care and protection of those in need.

“(Local Government) is the heartbeat of this country’s survival. Let me again remind those persons who feel that there is no need for it, that 85 percent of the country’s survival is vested in local government,” the Minister said.

“We clear garbage, we fix parochial roads, we run markets, we run abattoirs, we deal with building plans and we deal with hairdressers and barbers.”

Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Michael Belnavis, was grateful for the Minister’s continued assistance in improving the lives of the needy, especially those in St. Ann.

The St. Ann Poor Relief Department will be responsible for the care of Misters Taylor and Osbourne.

Under the MSAP model; the houses are constructed from concrete with a general area for living, dining and sleeping along with a bathroom and kitchen space.

Minister McKenzie announced the MSAP model during his April 2017 Sectoral Presentation with its objective to advance and empower the poor and vulnerable.

The programme is grounded on four components namely social housing assistance (house repairs, minor improvements, disaster preparedness and response assistance); education and funeral grants; office/administration support for parish councillors and indigent housing assistance. It is administered through the local authorities.

To date, some six houses have been constructed under MSAP in the parishes of St. Ann, Clarendon and Kingston and St. Andrew.

Minister McKenzie also noted that the MSAP houses will feature some modernism as the Government is moving away from the construction of board structures for indigent persons.

Local government minister targets inaugural youth mayors’ forum as incubator of new talent for the local government system

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie has expressed great confidence that the inaugural Youth Mayors’ Forum will be the foundation for the development of young people to be the next generation of leadership of Jamaica’s local government system.

The Minister’s comments came after the hosting of the event at the offices of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation in May Pen. The Forum was one of the initiatives of Local Government and Community Month, 2018, which is being observed under the theme “Protecting the vulnerable…establishing hope through local governance.”

“I am glad we had this Forum… Just a few brief minutes of association have said to me that this year’s crop of junior Mayors can be ranked extremely highly on the list of Mayors who have participated. I was pleased with the quality and content of the presentations. There is not one aspect of what was said that I found not to be critical to the survival of our institutions that cater for the poor and vulnerable… some of the suggestions will form a part of our approach in preparing for the next budget cycle for the Infirmaries across the country.”

In the course of their presentations, the youth Mayors expressed their concerns and recommendations about the country’s most vulnerable, particularly those in Infirmaries across the island.

These concerns include the training of Infirmary staff, the treatment, nutrition and health of the residents, the security of physical property and of the residents and the need for public-private partnerships for the funding and upkeep of infirmaries.

The Minister explained that the concept of youth Mayors and junior Councillors is meant to replicate the real structure of the country’s Municipal Corporations. “More importantly, it is a critical tool for nurturing the talent that has been discovered. We want to ensure that these bright and promising young people are inspired to grow and develop within the local government system, and become the new generation of transformational administrative and political leadership that the system will require, so that local government can expand its positive contribution to parochial and national development.”

Local government ministry to provide educational and housing assistance to raheem powell and his family

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie has moved to assist the family of 17 year old Raheem Powell, whose living circumstances were the subject of a publication in the media this week. Young Raheem was one of the over 500 athletes in the Ministry’s Cross Island Run, but was the only participant who competed without shoes.

Touched by the background to this, the Local Government Minister today announced a special intervention to assist Raheem and his family.

“We cannot, as a Ministry and as a Government, see a situation such as this and do nothing. Accordingly, I have had discussions with the Minister of State responsible for Education Youth, Hon. Floyd Green, and our Ministry will be undertaking the expenses of schooling Raheem and his younger brother. We also through the Social Development Commission took a look at the family’s residential conditions, and they are frankly not ideal. Therefore, I have directed that a two-bedroom house is to be built for the family on the land that they own. We expect that this project will be completed by this Christmas. The Poor Relief Department will oversee this process.”

Raheem, his brother and mother, who met with Minister McKenzie at the Ministry’s offices, expressed gratitude for the special intervention.

Local government minister announces works for new fire stations in st. mary and st. james

Local Government and Community Development Minister Hon. Desmond McKenzie has announced that work on constructing two new Fire Station in St. James and St. Mary, is expected to commence approximately three months into the new year.

At a special news conference held on Friday, the Minister announced that the construction project, which will be managed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund under the World Bank Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme, is closer to commencement with the impending end of the procurement process.

“The tender advertisements for the Port Maria Fire Station in St. Mary will be published in the first week of November, and, at the end of the subsequent Bid Selection exercise, works will begin by the end of this Financial Year at a cost of J$241 million. With regard to the Barnett Street Fire Station in Montego Bay, the Bid Selection process is shortly at hand, and works are expected to begin by the start of the next Financial Year, April 2019, at a cost of J$475 million.”

The Minister also reported that works are being implemented at the island’s Infirmaries, consistent with his announcement in this year’s Sectoral Debate in June. At that time, he announced a special J$200 million partnership for the development of Infirmaries with the National Housing Trust. “Works are proceeding at the Matron’s Quarters at the Westmoreland Infirmary at a cost of J$16 million, and the project at the St. James Infirmary, which is valued at J$35 million is well advanced. Works at the St. Elizabeth Infirmary will begin shortly, at a cost of J$15 million. I must also acknowledge the important role of the CHASE Fund, which will be providing standby generators for every Infirmary, and of the National Health Fund, which will be providing medical equipment.”

Having handed over three compactor trucks valued at J$25 million to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) early in October, Minister McKenzie announced that discussions are currently being held with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service to procure additional units. “The Ministry is keenly aware that while there have been substantial investments in the procurement of garbage collection equipment, there is still outstanding refuse across the country that must be collected and processed. In this regard, I will be crafting, in conjunction with the Chairman and Executive Director of the NSWMA, a special programme to address the existing backlog. We intend to make this Christmas a garbage-free one for our citizens.”

The Minister also used the occasion to remind business operators that they should make arrangements with the NSWMA to collect their waste at their expense, as the Agency is mandated by law only to collect residential waste.

JFB gets Fire Boats, Four New Trucks – Boats for Corporate Area and Montego Bay

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, handed over more than J$300 million worth of equipment to enhance the capabilities of the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).

“Today is a landmark day…the equipment that we are going to commission into use represents an investment collectively of over three hundred and eighty five million dollars to the Jamaica Fire Brigade,” commented Minister McKenzie.

“Finally after many stops and starts, we have two boats. One will be stationed here in the Corporate Area and the other one in Montego Bay that cover the western part of the island.”

He was speaking during a special ceremony at the Fire Boat Station, Newport East in Kingston on Monday, April 16, 2018. The event was supported by Mayor of Kingston, Senator Delroy Williams and the JFB Board of Directors led by Russell Hadeed.

The JFB has been operating without a fire boat within Kingston and its environs for the past 11 years. The other pieces of newly-acquired equipment include four trucks – two pumpers and two water tenders.

“We also require stations to facilitate not just the boats themselves but for those persons who are going to be operating the boats, and so the Government is going to be spending some J$22 million to erect facilities to house the staff of the fire boats,” the Minister added.

The earmarked amount for this fiscal year has a breakdown of J$14m for Montego Bay and J$8m to upgrade the Fire Boat Station at Newport East.

Head of the JFB, Commissioner Raymond Spencer described the hand-over as a momentous occasion for firefighters.

“The modern fire service must respond to both present and emerging threats,” he said. “My hope is that in the next three and a half years when the Jamaica Fire Brigade celebrates its 150th anniversary, we will have an improved citizen-centered fire service that provides swift response and value-added service.”

Commissioner Spencer expressed gratitude to the Jamaica Defence Force for assisting with the training of staff of the fire boat, which will be maintained by the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation.

“The response capability is quite important to the building of a city. We are growing the City (of Kingston) in every way and we must be able to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively,” Senator Williams said in his greetings. “A coordinated multi-agency approach is important to disaster preparedness and emergency response.”

Minister McKenzie also shared that there is an additional sum of J$189m in the 2018/2019 budget to purchase new fire trucks. This budgetary support will be augmented by a partnership with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund through which will provide financing for six more units.