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Rural Development Programme advances in Chambers Pen, Hanover

The multi-faceted Rural Development Programme (RDP) is progressing in the community of Chambers Pen, Western Hanover.

The RDP is spearheaded by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

“The work is about 30 percent complete – the (Chambers Pen All Age) school, the electrical wiring, the distribution of the water tanks, we have already put in the water distribution lines. There are some more connections to be made, with the roads and other things that are going to come,” explained Portfolio Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie.

“Once that gets started it will get us, hopefully by the middle of the year, to about 80 per cent complete.

Chambers Pen is the RDP pilot project where resources of more than J$223 million are being spent to improve the social and physical conditions of the community.

A partnership between the local government and education ministries saw the principal’s cottage and the cafeteria at the all-age school renovated at a cost of J$30m. Computer tablets are to be distributed to students, and the school ground is also slated for repairs at a later date.

The next phase of work will involve the community park and the community centre.

Minister McKenzie said he was ecstatic about the advancements on the ground.

“I am feeling very good about the progress of the work between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, that has come in and have completed their work. The Jamaica Public Service is to come to put in streetlights in certain selected areas, Rural Water Supply Limited has been working, the Social Development Commission has been on the ground…now the real construction will start, which includes repairs to the bridges, the putting in of the curb walls, sidewalks, and rehabilitation of the roads.”

The RDP was announced by the Government in 2021 and a total of four communities islandwide are to benefit from the initiative in the first phase of the programme.

The Minister visited Chambers Pen on February 16 and participated in several activities including a tour of the Chambers Pen All Age School; the commissioning of the Chambers Pen Water Supply System and a contract signing for road rehabilitation as well as the handover of an indigent housing solution.

“Ladies and gentlemen, all of this investment will mean nothing if the community doesn’t embrace and take care of this investment. This is your tax dollar working for you… I urge you to take care of the investment,” he said during the ceremony to commission the water system.

Rural Water Supply Limited’s Managing Director, Mr. Audley Thompson, says the entity spent J$49m on the system that will be connected to that of the National Water Commission (NWC). Households will also be provided with 400-gallon black water tanks for standby supply. To date, 300 tanks have been distributed.

Chambers Pen is a farming community located approximately nine kilometres east of Lucea, with an estimated population of 1,100 residents. The adjoining communities include Dundee Pen, Eaton, Harvey River, and McLaren Gate.