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Outameni goes quiet amidst controversy

Published:Thursday | November 6, 2014 | 11:30 PMMark Titus

WESTERN BUREAU:

AMID THE raging controversy and public outcry generated by the decision by the National Housing Trust (NHT) to buy the Trelawny-based attraction Outameni Experience, things have seemingly gone quiet at the entity's Coopers Pen base.

When The Gleaner visited the facility on Wednesday, the main gate was padlocked and except for a very cautious security guard, there was no other sign of life.

"The place is closed... it has been closed since the new ownership took over," the security guard reluctantly stated. "It is being refurbished so no tours are taking place right now."

Quizzed as to whether or not he had heard of a re-opening timeline, the security, seemingly uncomfortable about being questioned, reply dryly, "December," and ignored all other attempts to engage him in conversation.

Civil society and the opposition Jamaica Labour Party have taken issue with the NHT's decision to buy Outameni property, arguing that J$180m spent to acquire the property should have been sourced from the Tourism Enhancement Fund.

The opposition has called for the property to be re-sold, and is demanding that the members of the Easton Douglas-chaired board to be relieved of their duties.

However, the NHT board has described the investment, which will see additional $111 million being spent over the next three years on upgrading, as a wise buy.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com