Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
SOME 209 residents of Springfield in Clarendon who are currently residing in dilapidated sugar barracks are expected to benefit from 88 new housing solutions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries European Union-funded Sugar Transformation Programme.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller recently broke ground for the new solutions recently. The houses will be built by Seal Construction Company at a cost of $161 million.
"I am delighted to be here in Springfield, Clarendon for today's contract signing and ground-breaking ceremony for the 88 houses, which will be built specifically for a group of Jamaicans whose work has historical significance - our sugar workers," said Simpson Miller.
She added: "We aren't building houses here; we are building a community in which to raise our children in accordance with the proverb passed down by our African foremothers and fathers that says 'it takes a village to grow a child'," she added.
In expressing her gratitude to the European Union for funding the project, the prime minister said the Government has the vision, but not necessarily all the means to implement the project.
"We are, therefore, grateful for all the support and the partnerships of the European Union, without whom this wouldn't have been possible," she told the gathering.
Head of the European Union delegation in Jamaica Ambassador Paola Amadei said the Sugar Transformation Programme will relocate 876 families in a dignified manner from dilapidated centuries-old barracks to new, salubrious homes.
"I am looking forward to next year (2014) when the keys will be handed over to the new home-owners, as they move from the centuries-old sugar barracks to their new quarters," said Amadei.
She said the project was being implemented in Jamaica at a time of significant hardship in Europe. As such, she noted that it was important to acknowledge the commitment of the European governments and citizens to extend solidarity to people in need thousands of miles away from Europe's borders.
The ambassador added that, to date, J$17.5 billion has been earmarked for Jamaica, for the period 2006-2013, of which almost J$8 billion has already been disbursed through budgetary support to the Government of Jamaica.