PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is ramping up housing developments in St Ann as the parish continues to attract increased investments which he attributes to his Administration’s management of the economy.
Holness told cheering supporters at the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) St Ann North Eastern constituency conference Sunday night that with more people choosing to build homes and businesses along the Mammee Bay to Discovery Bay corridor, the Government intends to convert the road into a highway and extend the north-south highway through the hills “all the way to the border of Trelawny”.
“We’re not just going to build a road, we’re going to do a development plan along that road,” Holness told Labourites packed inside the auditorium at Marcus Garvey High School in St Ann’s Bay.
He said that when he used to tour the constituency with then Member of Parliament Shahinie Robinson (now deceased), she would complain about the very high level of informal settlements in the constituency, fuelled by people’s desire to live near where they were able to secure employment.
“Eventually, they are there for 10, 20 years [with] no improvement in their circumstances. Well, we are at the point now where we need to plan for you and we need to plan for the other people who are going to move into the parish as this corridor between Mammee Bay and Discovery Bay becomes [more] developed. So when we do the road, which is way down the wicket now, we’re going to look to find housing land, and we’re going to develop affordable housing for the people, particularly our tourism workers who are living in these informal settlements, and we’ve already started,” the prime minister and JLP leader said.
He said that 490 houses will be built on the Minard lands, Bromley will have a housing development with 775 units, and in Ridge Estates 450 units will be constructed.
“So in all, over 1,700 houses we’re looking to build in this area by 2025,” Holness said, eliciting loud cheers.
“But that’s not all: Roaring River lands, finally work is going to start on a development in that area where 780 housing units are going to be built. So this parish is slated for some significant development,” he said.
Holness also said that the Government will spend $1 billion to improve the Ocho Rios market. That, he explained, is now going through the public investment approval process, “and as soon as we get approval then we move to the contract stage and you will start to see work done to improve your market,” he said, adding that the craft market is also slated for repairs.
“Markets are an important part of any town. For too long we’ve grown accustomed to the view that the market must be a chaotic place, a dirty place, a disorderly place. If we’re going to change our society we need to change our markets to a place that is orderly, easy to use and access, clean. So we’re going to give you a first-class market, but you have to promise me that you’re going to take care of the market,” Holness said.
He said that despite the investments along the Mammee Bay to Discovery Bay corridor there are people in the country who keep stating that “nutten nah gwaan”.
Arguing that the increase in traffic along that corridor was due to the fact that “the economy has done so well”, Holness asked, “Why is it happening under the Jamaica Labour Party Government? Why are people choosing to develop all the lands along that corridor? They put in house, they put in new plaza, all kinda businesses going up along the corridor.”
That activity, as well as the construction of new hotels, has created more jobs for Jamaicans, he told the supporters. “Your party is not sitting down idly; we are doing the things necessary to ensure your peace and prosperity.
“You are the people who have put us here. You have made us stronger and I’m saying to you, continue to hold us to account. Continue to tell us what you want to see happen. Don’t give up hope. Always keep an optimistic outlook on life because we have been in a long struggle, but we are now at the point where we are going to see the benefits,” Holness said, eliciting more loud cheers and horn-blowing.
“God never kept His people in the wilderness forever. At some point He sent leadership and He directed them out of the wilderness. We are on our way out of the wilderness that the PNP (People’s National Party) led us into and kept us there for over 18 1/2 years. We are marching out of the wilderness,” he said.
“We have now shown that we can get your children employed, we have shown that we can pay down the national debt, we have shown that we can keep the dollar stable, we have shown that we can [build] more roads than any other Government has ever built before, we have shown that we can build houses for you and we are going to ensure that there is peace in the land so that all Jamaicans can enjoy sweet, sweet Jamaica,” he said.