LITTLE LONDON, Westmoreland — Ground is expected to be broken for the construction of the long-awaited Westmoreland Police Divisional Headquarters in this parish by the end of the year.
National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang said he has given instructions for the headquarters to be relocated from Great George Street in Savanna-la-Mar to Llandilo in the parish. However, the minister said the process was delayed by challenges with the process put in place to minimise corruption.
“The Government agreed and finance was provided, but there has been a tedious procurement process and we won’t break ground until maybe December of this year,” the minister stated following a tour of the proposed site on Thursday.
In February, Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke told the House of Representatives that the project had been allocated $465 million in the 2023/2024 Estimates of Expenditure. According to Dr Chang the old building now on Great George Street in the town will be “refurbished to accommodate the Savanna-la-Mar City Police Station.”
On Thursday, the minister also toured the Frome and Little London stations, which are currently under construction in the parish. These projects have also had their share of delays for various reasons, but the Frome facility is now expected to be occupied by July, while November of next year is said to be the opening date for the Little London station.
Ground was broken for the Little London station in April of last year, with the ground-breaking for Frome following in September of that same year. Both projects, which are funded by the National Housing Trust (NHT), are expected to cost $175 million each.
Minister Chang said the stations are being monitored for completion because they are well needed.
“Westmoreland is a parish that has seen an increase in criminal activities, and we had to deploy more personnel. The quality of the station that existed there for many years was extremely poor and way below standards for police officers,” he stated.
“We are investing in building an appropriate infrastructure for the police in Westmoreland and across Jamaica,” he added.
Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western Morland Wilson (Jamaica Labour Party) welcomed the work being done on the Little London station in his constituency, which had two murders hours within each other a few days ago.
“I want to say thanks for the tour by the deputy prime minister and National Security Minister [Dr Chang], along with the Commissioner of Police [Major General Antony Anderson], NHT, and their teams. The tour is timely, as we have seen two high-profile incidents — which caught national attention — in the Little London area,” stated Wilson.
He was referring to the gun slaying of 39-year-old Lativa Helps at her businessplace on Monday and the robbery of a supermarket. An elderly woman was injured in the second incident.
Wilson, who is anticipating the completion of the station within the target date, said the new facility will result in better policing, better communities, and a better Jamaica.