'Your houses are coming' - Davies
Housing ministry vows to complete low-income Bernard Lodge project as soon as possible
Nadine Wilson-Harris, Staff Reporter
Minister of Housing Dr Omar Davies has assured persons who were selected for the low-income housing scheme planned for Bernard Lodge Estates in St Catherine that it is still a priority, even though a timeline cannot now be given for its completion.
Hundreds of prospective homeowners had made deposits to the tune of $400,000 and $490,000 after they were promised that the first set of keys would have been handed over to depositors by April 2014. However, up to last week, the 263 acres on which the 1,584 starter units are to be built was covered with bush and trees.
"I am not a minister to just issue statements all the time," Davies told The Sunday Gleaner when asked why there has been no update on the housing scheme.
THE PROJECT IS STILL ON
"I don't like to announce something unless there is something substantive, but yes, the project is still on," added Davies, while indicating that he is currently in discussions with a new partner to fund the project as the initial partners have not been able to come up with the money.
"I am working on the thing. I am working, working, working," insisted Davies.
"We are seeking to rework the project. There will be a project, but there were deficiencies in the previous designs and I have asked for a thorough engineering review and I have received that.
"I am seeking for a resolution that does three things simultaneously. One is to end in an amicable way the agreement with the first private partner, then second, enter into a new private public partnership, and three, begin the project within a very, very short time. Until I am in a position to put the three things together I cannot make an announcement," he asserted.
The minister said he was very sensitive to the dilemma currently being experienced by the depositors, some of whom told The Sunday Gleaner they had taken out high-interest loans in order to make their down payments. He said several have since taken back their deposits and those who are unable to wait have this option available to them.
"The depositors' money is in an escrow account and it is untouched, meaning that it is not being utilised for any other purpose. Any depositor who wishes to have back his or her money can have it."