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Rural Development Programme officially launched in Chambers Pen

Community to benefit from J$223m upgrade

CHAMBERS PEN, Hanover: The Rural Development Programme has been officially launched in Chambers Pen, Western Hanover.

The community, which is the pilot, will benefit from a J$223 million upgrade to infrastructure as well as human capacity building.

“It is your project, make use of it. I want you to value your ax dollar because at the end of the day, the success or failure of this project will depend on the community of Chambers Pen,” said Honourable Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, in his charge to residents during the launch ceremony on June 22.

The Ministry is spearheading the Rural Development Programme introduced last year and is designed to give new life to rural communities over the next two years.

The works scheduled for Chambers Pen include the installation of water and electrical infrastructure, internet access, roads, sidewalks, community parks and indigent housing.

The Minister also shared that the community was chosen as the pilot project based on the findings of a Social Development Commission (SDC) study.

“I commissioned the SDC to conduct a study on six communities’ in six parishes across the island and when we go the findings on Chambers Pen. I took the decision that the community would be the pilot in the new thrust for urban and rural development.”

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) will be responsible for the wiring 300 households for electricity, and more than 50,000 gallons of water will be made available through the implementation of the Chambers Pen Water Supply System through the Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL).

The electrification phase is set to begin by month end. The Chambers Pen Primary School and the Chambers Pen Community Centre will also undergo renovations and streetlights installed.

Minister McKenzie said the project will be undertaken in a transparent manner.

“I am not going to allow anybody to question or cast any doubt about the credibility of this programme. We went through the process, we put out the packages for tendering, all the tenders came in, the Ministry conducted its own process, Rural Water conducted their own process [and] JSIF did the same,” he maintained.

“This is a Government that has to operate and follow the guidelines that are set. We want to be transparent; we want to be clear when we are spending taxpayers’ money – when we are spending your money.”

He also announced that four social housing units is earmarked for construction in the community as part of the first phase of the Rural Development Programme.

Farm tools were also donated to some farmers in the Chambers Pen community during the launch event.

Cheswick in St. Thomas is the next community scheduled to benefit under the Rural Development Programme.