Bernard Lodge plan to move Portmore away from dormitory community – Shoucair
THE GOVERNMENT has presented a major development plan for the Bernard Lodge area of St Catherine that will result in more affordable housing, expansion of jobs, sustainable agricultural production, upgrading of roads and informal communities, and improved water supply.
Dubbed the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Master Plan, communities such as Clifton and Dunbeholden will also have infrastructure upgrades and community centres while the wider area will have a new and central sewerage system.
“The master plan is designed to move away from that dormitory community that Portmore has become. We will provide opportunities where you can live and you can work within a short distance,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Joseph Shoucair at the recent launch of the plan at Jamaica House in St Andrew.
Shoucair is leading an enterprise team that has been tasked with implementing the plan.
The development plan, which has benefited from a wide range of stakeholder consultations and Cabinet deliberations and approval, is a comprehensive mix of how lands can be used for agriculture, housing, commercial activities, and community life to contribute to the future growth of the Kingston Metropolitan Area. Also included in the plan is the provision of potable water from three wells.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Daryl Vaz pointed out that 56 per cent of the lands would be devoted totally to agriculture; 28 per cent to residential; and the remaining portion to utilities, open spaces, and commercial use.
Expanding Food security
He says that the Government has put mechanisms in place to ensure that there will be no further changes to land usage for the area. “With the expansion of agricultural lands and agro-investments to come, we will expand food security and production,” Vaz added.
The minister points out that measures will also be in place for environmental protection, safeguards for the underground water systems, drainage improvement, waste management, and road rehabilitation in the Greater Portmore area.
“A significant element of the development plan is the protection of the aquifer – implementing anti-pollutant strategies to reduce pollution of the aquifer and ensuring maximum preservation of existing wells and associated infrastructure,” he said.
The minister added that to ensure proper environmental protection of the area, a “meticulous waste-water management system will be adopted” to include closed underground garbage silos throughout the development that will be able to store garbage, necessitating less frequent collections, and mitigate against odour pollution.
He also noted that a closed sewerage system would be developed to prevent potential contamination of the aquifer and that the existing sewerage-treatment facilities would be relocated to an area outside the Aquifer Protection Zone.
Vaz also pointed out that a closed sewerage system would be developed to prevent potential contamination of the aquifer and that the existing sewerage treatment facilities would be relocated to an area outside the Aquifer Protection Zone.
Among the roads to be upgraded are Grange Lane and the Dunbeholden and Bernard Lodge main roads.
Works to be undertaken include the erection of traffic signals, increasing the number of lanes, adding pedestrian crossings, installation of sidewalks and street lights, and the construction of a four-lane bridge across the Highway 2000 East-West corridor. “The development will be transformational for Portmore and sections of St Catherine and will be the start of a smart city,” Vaz said.
For his part, President of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Lenworth Fulton has given his blessings to the plan, particularly as it relates to protection of agricultural lands, as outlined in the plan, and the environment.
Meanwhile, Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority Peter Clarke said his agency has given its support to the plan, with stipulations that water for domestic and commercial use must be boosted, and the aquifer must become a “protected area”.
He said that the regularisation of the informal communities is “welcome because, as things stand, it is not best for the aquifer”.